The power to take away a human person’s freedom, to forcibly separate a person from loved ones and home, to keep him or her away from his or her caregivers and ready medical care, to keep him or her from business, livelihood, and gainful employment so that he or she can pay his or her bills and service his or her loans, to keep him or her from society at large and the company he or she wishes and elects to keep, to shut him or her away for years on end without having to prove his or her guilt in a publicly-conducted court of justice- this kind of arbritrary power over any human person irrespective of age, gender, class, ethnic origin or creed is excessive, immoral and unconscionable.
For this reason, the Internal Security Act (ISA) needs to be abolished and such an arbitrary instrument of near absolute power must never remain in the hands of any government professing any political persuasion, creed or manifesto.
Any such power vested in any select group of individuals, regardless of any profession of good intentions, is a temptation that inevitably and invariably leads to abuse and self-serving lines of action. No spouse, parent, teacher, boss, community, family, clan, police, army, religious or government chief should ever be entrusted with such sweeping powers over other human beings.
The ISA which legalises detention without trial does violence against a whole host of human rights.
Much can be said for reform of the judicial system in any country and much can and should be done to reform our country’s judicial system. But justice in a civil court is intended to guarantee an opportunity for an accused person to defend himself or herself and tell his or her own side of the story. This guarantee is removed by the ISA.
Human society cannot speak about security at family, community or national level if fundamental civil liberties are removed from the equation. The history of human civilizations is strewn with the disasterous consequences of arbitrary, heavy-handed acts against humanity. Human history teaches again and again that the end does not justify the means.
Mere human beings no matter how smart, sincere or well-meaning should not assume God’s role and usurp God’s throne.
Originally published on August 1, 2009 in onGOHing by Goh Keat Peng. There is also a major public rally in Kuala Lumpur on August 1, 2009 seeking the repeal of the Internal Security Act that allows for detention without trial.