As a representative Council of five major religions in Malaysia, MCCBCHST is saddened by the recent use of the Internal Security Act (“ISA”) in the detention of three Malaysians- a newspaper journalist, a prominent blogger, and a Member of Parliament.
Recent events in Malaysia has proved that we are now a more mature nation, with a populace who are able to rationally debate our differences relating to religion and race. We live in peace and harmony, and there does not seem to be any need for archaic laws nor for the continued State of Emergency which we live in.
There are issues of fundamental human rights which the ISA contravenes including the fundamental principle that all individuals are innocent until proven guilty by a properly-convened and conducted trial in court. Without being given their day in court, inference of guilt is arbitrary and therefore unjust and unacceptable.
Detaining a person without a trial is unjust and unfair. A person must be given a chance to tell his side of the story, and an independent judge must determine whether or not he should be detained if he has broken our laws.
Despite the fact that the newspaper journalist and the Member of Parliament were released soon after their arrest, the reason given for their arrest has not been independently tested nor proven. Therefore the authorities still owe them, their families and the Malaysian public a clear and convincing explanation for the drastic move made against them.
In the case of the prominent blogger, Raja Petra Kamaruddin, the Home Ministry signed the papers for a two-year detention without trial and sent him to the Kamunting detention camp just before his application for a habeas corpus hearing could be heard in court.
Already, Raja Petra Kamaruddin has been charged in court over some of his postings in his blog and he was awaiting trial for these charges. He should have his day in court and any allegations made against him should be tested in a proper trial.
The MCCBCHST notes that SUHAKAM has in their 2003 report “Review of the Internal Security Act 1960 (‘ISA’)” proposed the repeal of the ISA and its replacement with national security legislation consistent with human rights principles.
We would therefore place on record that we do not agree to the continued use of the ISA or any law (such as the Emergency Ordinance) which allows for detention without fair trial. The shared values of all our religions in Malaysia call on us to strive for justice and fair play, and no religion would countenance such arbitrary measures against any human being. We pray and urge that all who are presently detained under the ISA be freed forthwith and charged in Court if deemed necessary.
We also urge Parliament to repeal the ISA and end the State of Emergency which we live in, and abolish all laws calling for detention without trial.
Dated this 26 day of September 2008
President, Datuk A. Vaithilingam
Deputy President, Bishop Dr Paul Tan Chee Ing
Vice President, Ven. Ming Ji
Vice-President, Sardar Harcharan Singh
Vice President, Mr B.S. Tan
Hon. Secretary-General, Mr S.O. Paramsothi