It may be one small step for our neighbour, but it's a giant leap for human rights advocates. The new Security Offenses Bill presented to the lower house of Malaysia's Parliament on Tuesday will limit detention without charge to 28 days, not indefinitely, as was the case under the repressive ISA law.
The British introduced the "Emergency Regulations Ordinance" in 1948 during the Malayan Emergency in response to a communist uprising and guerrilla war. Three years after The Emergency was declared over in 1960, the Internal Security Act was passed in place with the same powers to curb communist insurgency. Singaporean Chia Thye Poh, the world record holder for imprisonment by his wicked law, was detained under the ISA from 1966 to 1998, for allegedly being a communist. Maybe that's where the Americans got the idea for Abu Ghraib.
Today, Communists from China are welcomed with open arms, especially those bearing the promise of economic gifts. The Singapore Ministry of Education even send teachers out to traverse the PRC expanse to offer scholarships to little commie ingrates, only to have them label our senior citizens dogs after being feted at taxpayers' expense.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the new legislation will give police all the powers they need to protect national security and combat terrorism, at the same time introducing new safeguards for civil liberties to ensure that the highest standards are upheld.
That must sound all Greek to Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who stubbornly insisted in October 2011 that ISA helps Singapore to tackle not just terrorism, but also other threats such as foreign subversion, espionage and racial agitation. Teo ruled out all suggestions to replace the ISA with a Terrorism Act, unless the Act is "very broad in scope and provides for preventive detention, just like the ISA", i.e. replace the ISA with another ISA. This guy justifies detention without trial for terrorists by maintaining that such trials would "expose information terrorists could use to pursue their agenda". Needless to say, all open trials also tend to expose the hidden agenda of the prosecuting party. Maybe he should be sent across the Causeway to learn from our more enlightened neighbours, and paid like his Malaysian counterpart while he's taking lessons.