Abolish Singapore’s Internal Security Act
We welcome Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s announcement that his government would repeal the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the Emergency Ordinance. He said the changes are aimed at “having a modern, mature and functioning democracy which will continue to preserve public order, ensure greater civil liberties and maintain racial harmony.” We look forward to the Malaysian Prime Minister fulfilling his promise to his people.
Singapore inherited the ISA from Malaysia. This law has been in existence for more than half a century and its impact on society is both crippling and pernicious. Its life began soon after the Second World War as the Emergency Regulations in 1948 when the British used it to put down strong anti-colonial movements. In 1955, the Preservation of Public Security Ordinance incorporating the Emergency Regulations was passed. When Singapore joined Malaysia in 1963, the Federation of Malaya’s Internal Security Act 1960 became part of our law。
The Ministry of Home Affairs claims that:
“ … A person arrested under the ISA in Singapore may be held in custody for 30 days after which an Order of Detention or Restriction Order must be issued or else the up to person must be released unconditionally.
In Malaysia, the period of custody is up to 60 days…” (ST 17.9.2011).
This comparison is irrelevant because political detainees in Singapore have been imprisoned for periods which far exceed those in Malaysia. Dr Chia Thye Poh was imprisoned for 26 years. Dr Lim Hock Siew was imprisoned for 20 years. Mr Lee Tee Tong was imprisoned for 18 years and Dr Poh Soo Kai and Inche Said Zahari for 17 years.
The Ministry further claims that the Advisory Board is a safeguard against abuse under the ISA. The protection accorded by the Advisory Board is spurious, if not a farce. Several of us have appeared before such a board and can confirm that the board did not examine witnesses and evidence against the detainee. In 1987, appearances before the board lasted not more than a few minutes each. Furthermore, detainees were discouraged from appearing before the board by ISD officers. Many were advised that appearing before the board would jeopardise their chances of early release.
内政部进一步声称，咨询委员会（即所谓“上诉委员会”）是一项在内内安法令下防止滥用权力的保障。咨询委员会所给予被拘留者的保护是欺骗性的，只不过是一场 闹剧。我们之中的一些人，曾经向这个咨询委员会上诉过，但是，可以确认这个委员会并不会去盘问证人及审查指控的证据。在1987年，每个上诉过程费时不过 几分钟，而且内安局官员往往阻碍或打击被扣者进行上诉，许多被扣者都告知，若上诉必将危害他们早日获得释放的机会。
Singapore has many existing laws that will deal with acts of terrorism. We have the Penal Code, the Sedition Act, Corrosive and Explosive Substances and Offensive Weapons Act, Vandalism Act and after 9/11, the Terrorism (Suppression of Bombings) Act and the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act. These laws provide severe punishments which include death, life imprisonment and caning.
In 1991, then Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, “Singapore will seriously consider abolishing the Internal Security Act if Malaysia were to do so”. He made this response to seven Malaysian journalists in his office when asked why the ISA was still needed in Singapore even though the Communist Party of Malaya no longer posed a threat. (ST 3.2.1991.) Now that Malaysia is repealing the ISA, we call upon PM Lee Hsien Loong to translate his 1991 statement into reality and keep in step with the aspirations of our people for a mature and functioning democracy. Indefinite detention without trial is an affront to the human rights of citizens and an assault on our justice system.
Dated this 19th day of September 2011.
Dr Lim Hock Siew 林福寿医生
Dr Poh Soo Kai 傅树楷医生
Said Zahari 赛扎哈里
Lee Tee Tong 李思东
Loh Miaw Gong 卢妙萍
Chng Min Oh @ Chuang Men-Hu 莊明湖
Tan Sin alias Tan Seng Hin 陈辛
Toh Ching Kee 卓清枝
Koh Kay Yew 许庚犹
Vincent Cheng Kim Chuan 钟金全
Teo Soh Lung 張素兰
Yap Hon Ngian 叶汉源
Tan Tee Seng 陈智成
Low Yit Leng 刘月玲
Wong Souk Yee 黄淑仪
Tang Fong Har 陈凤霞