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Friday, August 07, 2009

The ISA: Al Jazeera's focus & the KDN poll

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Yesterday, Al-Jazeera’s 101 East focused on the ISA – the Malaysian Internal Security Act, a law that allows for detention without trial, and was initially introduced to tackle communist insurgency in the 1960’s.

Part of the program was a forum, moderated by Fauziah Ibrahim, with Khairy Jamaluddin, Universiti Malaya’s Denison Jayasooria, and Zaid Ibrahim, former Law Minister and now in the PKR.

(part 2, the KDN Poll, and more, in the full post)

Part 1 (from 4:33 to 5:41)  featured pro-ISA movement leader Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz, making it clear that their support for the legislation was to “prevent these minority groups who are trying to create an unharmonious situation among the 27 million of the Malaysian citizens.” He also stated that “the reality in this country has shown that the Malays are the majority, and only Malays… the stability of the Malays can also assure… can also guaranties the stability of other races”.

Walski quite frankly is not surprised – the ISA has suddenly become another protected “Malay right”? But fortunately, this kind of fringe opinion is just that – a fringe opinion. An opinion that Walski thinks most Malaysians do not subscribe to.

In Part 2, KJ reiterated the government’s commitment to review the ISA, and stated that the government realizes that “the public wants to see some form of a review of the ISA”.

But is that what the public really wants?

Meanwhile, the Home Minstry, or Kementerian Dalam Negeri (KDN), the ministry under whose purview comes the ISA, launched a poll to gauge what the Malaysian people thought about the ISA. Walski was first alerted to this by Euphoria in Misery yesterday.

As of 6:20pm yesterday, 93% (out of 616 votes) voted for the legislature to be repealed. A quick check moments ago showed a similar percentage (90% or 7,450 votes). Only about 9% (or 759) responded that the ISA should still exist, but with some revision.

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The majority of the public, it would seem, wants a complete repeal, and not just a review. At least, that’s where it stands as of half an hour ago.

Walski thinks that as much as KJ was eloquent in presenting the government view, he was trying to defend the indefensible. Walski will, however, reserve comment until it is made known exactly what kind of reviews are in the works. This may be revealed as early as the next sitting of Parliament.

In the meantime, do the needful, and visit the KDN news portal, where the polls are (there are actually 5 polls related to the ISA), and do the needful – provide the government with the feedback it wants.

It may not be exactly what they want to hear, but at least they’re giving us the opportunity to say our piece. Even if it’s thru a poll.

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