I'll say one thing -- good for the rakyat that they are making their opposition to the Internal Security Act heard loud and clear.
Times have really changed.
These days, if anyone is detained under the ISA, you can be sure that there'll be concerned citizens protesting outside the police station where the detainee is being held, and gathering for a candlelight vigil to show support for the detainee.
Raja Petra Kamaruddin is not alone. Neither were Teresa Kok and Tan Hoon Cheng.
It's good to know that some families of detainees have relied on the law to get their loved ones released on a writ of habeas corpus (an order that a prisoner be brought before a court to determine whether his detention is lawful).
They even hold Press conferences demanding the release of their loved ones.
The ISA maybe here to stay for now, as Home Minister Syed Abdul Hamid Albar said but any arrest of individuals under the Act will surely trigger an overpouring of protest. The support for the detainee comes just as swiftly and as strong.
We should be mighty proud of ourselves in this regard. That we, as a people, have come a pretty long way.
We dare to be heard. We dare. We are a courageous lot.
I remember when my own father was detained under the ISA in 1976 for alleged communist activities. He was, of course, as good as guilty. He was detained for four-and-half years and released in 1981 after making a televised confession that he was a communist.
It was a different time then, under different circumstances.
People feared the ISA and ISA detainees were a different category of prisoners who were best left undefended.
It was something we had to accept. We had no one who dared come forth to support us.
We did not seek legal counsel nor any lawyer offered us any counsel -- to get him released. No one dared fight for his release. No protest, except, if I remember correctly, from DAP's Lim Kit Siang. But privately, I believe one or two Cabinet ministers protested against the arrest, not only of my father's but others -- Abdullah Ahmad, Abdullah Majid and Samani Amin.
Outside the county, international human rights groups protested the arrests. But this had very little, or no impact at all, in securing his release.
I felt really good for Marina Abdullah when she and her children were allowed to visit Raja Petra within a week of his arrest.
Those days, we were not able to see our father until months later.
I don't know whether the ISA will ever be repealed or abolished. Some people believe that it is a necessary evil. Perhaps. But, so far, it has existed only to be misused and abused.
I don't know the statistics, but I'm sure there are more political detainees than insurgents. Tell me I'm wrong,
For now, my fervent wish and appeal to the government is for those detained under the ISA be released immediately.
**The Internal Security Act (ISA) is a draconian and an anachronistic law. It is a preventive detention law originally enacted in the early 1960s during a national state of emergency as a temporary measure to fight a communist rebellion.
Under Section 73 (1) of the ISA, police may detain any person for up to 60 days, without warrant or trial and without access to legal counsel, on suspicion that "he has acted or is about to act or is likely to act in any manner prejudicial to the security of Malaysia or any part thereof or to maintenance of essential services therein or to the economic life thereof."
After 60 days, the Minister of Home Affairs can then extend the period of detention without trial for up to two years, without submitting any evidence for review by the courts, by issuing a detention order, which is renewable indefinitely. The law has repeatedly been criticized by Malaysian human rights groups, the Malaysian Bar Council, the Malaysian Human Rights Commission, and international human rights groups, which called for its repeal.
The ISA's provisions violate fundamental international human rights standards, including prohibitions on arbitrary detention and guarantees of the right to due process and the right to a prompt and impartial trial.