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Friday, September 16, 2011

Detention without trial stays but strictly for terrorists, says Nazri Aziz

Sulaiman Kamal | 3:01 AM | | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 — Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz admitted tonight that the new legislations replacing the Internal Security Act (ISA) would still allow for detention without trial but only for “terrorists”.
The de facto law minister explained that laws like the Patriot Act in the US, which was introduced after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, would be enacted in place of the now repealed ISA.
The significance of repealing the ISA, said the senior Cabinet minister, was that individuals would no longer be detained for following different political ideologies.

“The new laws are strictly for terrorism. What we are going to do now is enact similar laws like the Patriot Act in the US or the UK... these are acts to fight terrorism.
“We have once and for all decided that no laws should be enacted allowing for individuals to be arrested for having a difference in ideologies,” he said when contacted.
When asked if the new laws replacing the ISA would still allow for detention without trial, Nazri said, “If you have to detain a person, you have to detain that person. But it will not be for 60 days like in the ISA... the period will be reduced.”
Nazri (picture) said it was important to note that the new laws would grant the power of extending the detention periods to the judiciary and not the executive arm of the government.
Under the present ISA, the Home Minister determines the period of a person’s detention.
Hundreds of individuals, including activists and prominent politicians like Lim Kit Siang, Lim Guan Eng, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Karpal Singh and Datuk Ibrahim Ali, have been subjected to the use of the ISA with some serving out the full two years of detention allowed under the act.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced a slew of reforms to press and security laws tonight and the lifting of three Emergency Declarations, saying that the move to increase civil liberties was “risky, but we are doing this for our survival.”
He also announced amendments to the Police Act to allow for freedom of assembly according to international norms, although street protests would still be outlawed.
Nazri welcomed the announcements, saying the reforms were a result of lengthy discussions and consultation among Cabinet ministers and relevant government agencies.
He pointed out that recent events over the past few years showed that Malaysians have matured considerably and that the bogeyman of the May 13, 1969, riots no longer exists.
“After 54 years of independence, we have seen a change in society... the maturity of our electorate. We have seen how incidents like the burning of churches, the cowhead incident... none of it led to racial riots when it could have done so 40 years ago.
“Society has changed. Never again will we have a repeat of the 1969 riots. People today are more prepared to listen to one another rather than act rashly and violently,” he said.
As the de facto law minister, Nazri said he was “very happy” with the reforms as it would ease some pressure from him.
“Now, I do not need to be defending the ISA in Parliament any longer... makes my job easier,” he said, laughing.

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