The Online Citizen

Abolish the ISA immediately

September 25
22:34 2011


After all this time, the Internal Security Act continues to be controversial. We saw that at TOC’s Face To Face 2 forum [i], where the question of the 1987 detentions of the so-called Marxist conspirators sparked a sharp exchange between candidate Mr Tan Jee Say and our current President Dr Tony Tan. And we’ve seen that over the past week, as the Ministry of Home Affairs scrambled to react first to Malaysia’s announcement that it will abolish its ISA, and then to the call by 16 Singapore ex-detainees to abolish our own ISA.

The Online Citizen believes that the ISA in its current form is no longer relevant to or necessary in Singapore, and we therefore call for its abolition. In the past 2 decades, the ISA has been used primarily to fight terrorism and to counter espionage. If preventive detention continues to be necessary for those purposes, then the objective is better met by specific anti-terrorism and anti-espionage legislation than by a broad law like the ISA.

In 1991, then-Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong suggested that Singapore would seriously consider repealing the ISA, if Malaysia did the same. Now that Malaysia has actually done the unthinkable, the MHA sought to distinguish the two countries’ ISA, to justify Singapore’s continued retention of this repressive law.

But the two differences cited by MHA (in Singapore, a detention or restriction order has to be issued after 30 days of arrest, as opposed to 60 days in Malaysia; and since 1991, the President has a limited veto power not present in Malaysia) are minor and spurious, and neither of them go anywhere towards explaining why Singapore needs the ISA when Malaysia does not. And as pointed out by the Singapore ex-detainees, Singapore’s ISA has been used to detain individuals without trial for decades, far in excess of the detention periods seen in Malaysia.

The MHA’s response to the ex-detainees was also far from convincing. Its references to subversion were vague and supported only by mere assertions of fact and references to some of the ex-detainees’ confessions.

The ISA was originally introduced because of the alleged difficulties of conducting open trials in security cases. But the most controversial detentions under the ISA, of Dr Chia Thye Poh for 26 years; Dr Lim Hock Siew for 20 years, Mr Lee Tee Tong for 18 years; Dr Poh Soo Kai for 17 years; Inche Said Zahari for 17 years; and of the alleged Marxist conspirators between 1987 and 1989, occurred decades ago. The MHA has so far not suggested that there is any extrinsic evidence of their alleged subversive activities, other than their own confessions (which are suspect since they were made after protracted detentions).

If there is any such evidence, the MHA should provide it now, to prove to Singaporeans that those detentions were justified. There is surely no reason why decades-old evidence, from 20 to 50 years, cannot be produced today. What security risk could the release of this information today pose?

Apart from the allegation that Dr Poh Soo Kai treated a saboteur in Malaysia (which he has since denied [ii]), the MHA has also so far not provided any details as to what types of subversive activities had been undertaken by the detainees, especially the 1987 ex-detainees. Vague assertions of “subversion” and “infiltration” will not assure Singaporeans that the ISA has never been used to deter peaceful, non-violent and lawful opposition to the government of the day.

The MHA’s continued silence on these questions only leads one to wonder if any evidence of subversive activities, whatever that may mean, ever truly existed. Its speedy response to the ex-detainees’ statement also contrasts with its failure to respond to date to the comments by Mr Peter Low (“ISA: Judicial review should replace advisory board”, Straits Times Forum, Sep 23, 2011 [iii]), a past president of the Law Society and member of human rights NGO MARUAH Singapore, questioning if the ISA advisory board is in fact an effective safeguard.

The Government is essentially asking Singaporeans to trust them. But those who seek powers as broad as those in the ISA, need to explain why they are necessary in the first place, and then to properly justify their past exercise of such powers. The Government has, to date, failed abjectly in both aspects.

TOC therefore remains unconvinced by the bare assertions of MHA, that the ISA has never been used to detain political opponents of the government due solely to their political beliefs. We believe that few Singaporeans today truly believe that the ISA in its current form remains necessary, and that our security needs cannot be better met by specific anti-terrorism and anti-espionage laws that do not overly curtail human rights. The Government should therefore simply abolish the ISA immediately.


  • Lee Hsien Loon Must Keep His Word or Lose All Credibility

    A man is as good as his word, more so if he is the Prime Minister. If he is worth his salt, the PM should abolish the ISA immediately. Otherwise, he should bury his head in the sand and resign from his post.

    Time and Tide wait for no man. The ball is at his feet. The nation awaits his decision.

  • popcorn

    Right. Abolish this stupid ISA, it has outlived its usefulness long ago.
    PAP so fearful and insecure? No guts, still need Charlie’s security blanket for support and comfort?

  • Quanxi

    I agree we shd abolish ISA .LHL must keep his commitment otherwise he will be branded a wayang PM.Witn social media the govt can’t keep too much secrets the ISA activities

  • Quanxi

    .LHL must keep his commitment otherwise he will be branded a wayang PM.Witn social media the govt can’t keep too much secrets the ISA activities

  • Richard

    The speed at which the MHA defended the need for the ISA – faster than the F1 cars – shows very clearly that there was no thought or consideration. If the MHA had kept quiet for a few days, at least the gahmen could PRETEND that it did consider the matter and then decided that it was still necessary. Too bad, over-zealous MHA officials blew it. They probably forgot that LHL had said in 1991 that he would consider. But then, was he serious to begin with? More likely, he was just being smug, telling Malaysia: “You go first!”

    LHL did not have much credibility to begin with and that little has been eroded.

  • Titiana Ann Xavier

    The PAP government has continued to rebuff calls for the ISA to be scraped. The ISA had been used by the PAP government way back in the 60s to annihilate political opponents. Today the PAP government is facing the same threat. Its hold on political supremacy may not be sustainable. It may need to use the ISA again to put down the Opposition before GE 2016. Hence its reluctance to repeal the ISA.

  • doppelganger

    I can tell you my fellow Singapore citizens that the Government is lying to your face when it says in the Straits Times today 24 Sep 2011, that the ISA is not used for political enemies. I say that the ISD is used for everything, even against ordinary citizens for even non criminal non political cases. I and my family were hounded by the ISD with threats at interviews, harassment at the immigration checkpoints for a period of about two years because of a divorce case in our family. The other side engaged one of the elite Law firms with close links to the PAP. All hell broke loose as soon as this Law firm was hired against us.The ISD was set upon us by threats and humiliation until the Court Hearings were over. When the hearings were over, the ISD, like magic, stopped appearing in our lives, no more interviews, no more legal interpretations of the divorce laws, no more stopping us at checkpoints. I surmise that the intent was for the ISD to intimidate us so that we would crumple in Court and give up our rights. So that that Law firm employed by the other side would achieve a successful outcome, as indeed they have the final victory.
    I and my family have first hand experience of what the ISD would be involved in, even a divorce case. As a result I claim that the ISD is a hired gun ( or free service) to certain elites like Law firms to call upon to do their errands. I do not doubt that the ISD also has an eye on terrorists and the protection of the State, but not totally. It has a commercial arm to assist their special Law firms. Not knowing the facts and having no means to verify the given facts by the Govt or the detainees, I do not know whether the people mentioned in the ST today as having been detained by the ISD without hearing are dangerous or not. I am only sure that this Government having created an apparatus ostensibly to protect the Nation, is now freely using it for all purposes and seasons. In short commandeering it against the citizenry for any reason worth the money, like using this State Resource for a corporate purpose, The Govt is getting taxpayers to fund their projects of intimidating the citizenry over domestic litigation handled by their blue eyed lawyers. You can calculate how much man hours of work is involved, interviewing us several times, stopping us at checkpoints about 20 times over two years- all to assist this elite Law firm. What is the result of all those interviews and chacking, absolutely nothing. I have written to the competent authorities whether they found out anything criminal about us after two years of work. As you would expect, 50 emails to all relevant govt departments resulted in dead silence.
    In view of the above, I dare say that there is a high probability that the ISD is indeed used to destroy political opposition. If the ISD can be set against non criminal litigants, I don’t expect the Government to restrain the ISD from dealing with the PAP’s political opponents too.
    If I and my family can be given protection ( I don’t see how this can be done, given that the Judiciary is by and large compliant to its pay masters) I will set out every detail for the citizenry to make its own judgment as to what the ISD is about.
    In the meantime, I hope more of the citizenry come out with their personal encounters with the ISD. I do not believe that I doppelganger & family have such bad luck as to have suffered an exceptional ISD abuse. Ours may be the tip of an iceberg of rampant abuse by the ISD over ordinary citizens, inserting itself in all departments of life.
    I think the ISA should be abolished and replaced by a Law which will not allow the PAP and its elites to wield their power over everybody and for all seasons.

  • doppelganger

    Like everything the PAP does it proliferates and the ISD has proliferated into other work not connected with terrorism or national safety or public good. To say that it is used to demolish the opposition is not the worst departure it has made from its intended job nor the end of its creative utility. Ominously it is commandeered by blue eyed Law firm close to the PAP to humble and soften their clients’ enemies in preparation for Court Hearings. The ISD will when ordered by such Law firms, harangue citizenry who are litigating against the said Law firms’ clients, threatening them with dire consequences as if they are also judges, set the ICA to stop them for pointless checking at immigration checkpoints, spout the Shari’ah as if they are also Imams of the Muslim religion, in short become a one stop security/religious/police shop for every conceivable societal issue. If you think of it, isn’t it hilarious? Kafirs in the ISD running around intoning the Shari’ah? You think I am lying? Get the ISD to read this and see whether they can dispute my claim that some non- Muslim ISD officers are now going around intimidating Muslims by quoting the Shari’ah of Divorce. What will the ISD do next?

  • doppelganger

    The time has come to bring the acts of the ISA since its inception to an international tribunal able to hear the case of our detainees, some of whom have been detained without declared specificity for close to 30 years. The prime movers of the ISD , like LKY,GST,Nathan etc are all old men, some very old. We have to make haste to get justice done. Well, if it turns out as a decision and finding of the tribunal that everyone detained is rightfully detained, then we shall have to accept that too and apologise to these our benefactors LKY & company for their strong arm in protecting us all these 50 years.

  • MasSelamat

    The ISD also monitors high ranking civil servants who are gays…these bastards have no qualms about insulting and talking down to people as they think they are immuned from prosecution and wield great power.

  • doppelganger

    Fifty years of despotism by LKY and his cohorts is enough time in the history of a country. This country has gained worldwide recognition as a centre of trade, thanks to the despotism. But the despots have amassed by force and fear such wealth that flies against their wildest dreams. Whether it is fair exchange or no, we are unable to judge, only the people of a later time can give a verdict of what the PAP has done for us and to us. But this business of the ISA is patently an atrocity committed by the PAP that is easily identified within the whorls of suppression and control sewn by the Ruling Party in the Spring of their reign. The time has now come to deal with the ISA or it will be another 50 years of savage servitude by the Hatchet’s lineage in the flesh or in the spirit of the Institutions erected by his hands.

  • doppelganger

    @Titiana Ann Xavier.I would say, gather the facts, names, dates, biography of the victims etc and petition the UN Human Rights Council, or any International Tribunal able to bring justice to the victims. Abolishment of the ISA is too easy on the perpetrators of terror under the guise of the rule of law or any labeling preferred by the present Law Minister and his cohorts. Their incarceration under the ISA wrecks havoc on so many others beside themselves: the lives of their family members down the generations. The atrocity committed by the leaders in Singapore during the last four decades should not be ignored or brushed aside because we are afraid that the old tigers would yet sink their fangs on those of us who agitate for justice to the victims. Mere abolishment of the infernal Act is an insult to the generations of Singaporeans now alive and the recently dead. No need to wait for Godot. He will not come

  • Titiana Ann Xavier

    @ Doppelgänger,

    Completely agree with all you said about the ISA.

  • definitions

    you guys are idiots.. typical singaporeans behaviour.
    when terrorist attacks come,, then everyone will sart blaming govt. for slow response etc it never ends..
    more idiotic is you are actually being made use of by malaysia’s opposition to achieve their goals of creating singapore’s instability. you people at online citizen are truly morons

  • definitionally idiotic…

    @ definitions,

    Please learn to read.

    The point made is that the ISA should be replaced by specific anti-terrorism and anti-espionage laws.

    That will address your concern.

    But how have you addressed the concern of all those who were innocent but have been unjustly denied their freedoms?


    definitions26 September 2011
    you guys are idiots.. typical singaporeans behaviour.
    when terrorist attacks come,, then everyone will sart blaming govt. for slow response etc it never ends.
    YOU are the BLOOMIN idiot.. when/if terrorist come..our counterstrike matas in shortpants would be issued the ultimatium order
    when the filipino bus which contain the hongkie tourists was hijack by 1 man with a pistol…more than 6 shots was fired..
    do you think the filipino government 1st to renegotiate with terrorist prisoners?
    so is malaysia..which is why najib disband the isa…
    only bloomin indonesia still leave bombers/head fractions alived..for what purposes? political or religious moves?

  • Hogzilla

    (Before I say anything, I wish to remind myself this: Malaysia’s PM, Datuk Najib, abolished ISA because there is a catalyst for change while Singapore don’t.)

    We have been talking about ISA being irrelevant and/or unnecessary in present day Singapore, so abolish it. Good point raised, bad examples cited.

    If we are talking about how ISA is irrelevant and/or unnecessary, why are we talking about those who were locked up in the past (or still being lock up but “convicted” in the past. Please take note of the inverted commas.)? Shouldn’t we talk about why the present of the ISA is bad for Singapore now and future? If we just keep citing the past, it will lead us to nowhere.

    So, let’s come up with a VERY (I would love to bold and underline this word because it’s so important) convincing argument (e.g., present law is more than sufficient to cover ISA [I like this reason]), one which no one can refute, in favor of abolishing ISA.

  • mice is nice

    “There is surely no reason why decades-old evidence, from 20 to 50 years, cannot be produced today. What security risk could the release of this information today pose?”

    the risk that PAP’s dominance & credibility will be put at great risk lah. their ricebowl security lah.

    its like asking why demons are afriad of the light. hence the closets must remain close to prevent the demons of their past from coming out into the open.

    rare are those who are not afriad to face their own demons!

  • Activist

    The reply from MHA is most comical-they think they are still talking to the 1960s generation. Indeed, they seem to be facing now what they had faced before ,with similarity to the current two elections, EXCEPT this time we have this wonderful thing call ‘Internet’.
    In view of this, it affirms why their resistance to abolish ISA for they see it as a weapon above all to sustain their own party’s presence.

  • Wilfred

    In this part of the world (Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore), which 2 countries so far have not experience a terrorist attack? The answer is obvious. Both of these 2 countries have ISA law. I remember Indonesia used to has such law during Suharto’s time. Look what happen to Indonesia now. The would be terrorists go into jail for several years, after release, carry out terrorist attack. Are we willing to take the risk of removing it? or are we only willing to learn or accept ISA from painful experience after we have a terrorist attack that might kill your love ones?

  • Wilfred

    On the question who can proof those ex-detainees are guilty? Than can I ask who can proof Mas Selamat is innocent? Ideology itself is hard to convict anyone without ISA. Do we only want to act when these extreme ideologies become an action or do we want to confine them when it is still in an infant stage?

  • erc

    If for once that ISA within its history has ever been used against Political Detainees, Opponents other than Terrorism Detainess then it must be repealed and scrapped for abuse of usage.

  • Explain Detentions Now

    @ If there is any such evidence, the MHA should provide it now, to prove to Singaporeans that those detentions were justified. There is surely no reason why decades-old evidence, from 20 to 50 years, cannot be produced today. What security risk could the release of this information today pose?

  • No To Wilfred

    @Wilfred: Than can I ask who can proof Mas Selamat is innocent? Ideology itself is hard to convict anyone without ISA.

    Wifred, let me ask you a question and I challenge you to answer sincerely and not hypocritically.

    Question: If there is a new Mas Selamat and the authorities suspected and detained 2 people of which one is truly suspect but the other is truly innocent, The truly innocent one happens to be YOU.

    IS IT OK WITH YOU? A possible terrorism has been prevented but an innocent guy (you) has been detained for years and possibly confessed under stress.

  • ricardo

    It’s not quite correct to say “since 1991, the President has a limited veto power”

    Under the British system, the Govt. had to persuade a (hopefully independent) judge of the need for detention. In 1987 at least 1 judge in 1 case thought the detention was for personal & political ends. The PAP “improved” the ISA in 1989 so the President can overrule the Supreme Court and made it retrospective to deal with this.

    So not all Singapore Judges are PAP bootlickers like the Western press claims.

    All the Govt. needs is a compliant President and it can detain at will & ignore everyone else’s opinion. As Tony Tan pointed out, all discussions on Detention come under the Official Secrets Act so there is no need to explain to anyone.

    But it is convenient if “confessions” are extracted and the ISD is practised in this.

    Heretics have been known to recant when released but it is a simple matter to detain them again and their lawyers too.

  • DP

    If not for the ISA , PAP would not and will have have remained in power for so long unchallenged and either would LKY be able to sell his fantastic stories about building this country and blowing his own trumphet. The British archive records leads us to beleive that the ISA was abused to get rid of political apponents and I have no reason to believe that it will continue to be abused. I will trust a man who was willing to work for the Japanese to save his own ass and such a person will abuse anything to remain in power. A leopard never changes its spot no matter how famous he becomes. BTW was Francis Seow also a commie. To think the LKY is kissing China Commie asses now..

  • ISD/PA

    Come to think of it the ISD, like the PA is being abused by people in power for their self interest and they are doing this using state funds. What a brilliant idea. The MHS excuse is almost as commical as the PA reply.

  • ISD cousin of PA

    These stupid people still think that abolishing ISA means no more law against terrorism . Abolishing ISA means replacing it with a more appropriate law/act, not removing it.The new law/act will be more structured , not like the current ISA, its fluid, ambiguous and can be subjected to misuse or exploitation.It is also a torture mechanism.
    Those stupid people who are against abolishing ISA pls wake up.

  • Michael Lim Peng Liang

    Populist measures get you nowhere. Precisely because ISA is a broad law so it is harder for criminals with good lawyers to take advantage of legal technicalities and escape charges. The broad remit of the ISA ensures that all suspicious characters be detained and not get away scot free, endangering our society.

    The ISD has a reputation of efficiency & trustworthiness. Those detained like Dr Chia Thye Poh, Dr Lim Hock Siew, Mr Lee Tee Tong, Dr Poh Soo Kai, Inche Said Zahari, and the Marxist conspirators, all harboured dangerous intentions of toppling our government. These people all had links with Communists all over the world, or with networks of extremist fundamentalism. The ISD did its job well by detaining all these criminals.

    For those who insist on abolishing ISD, how to retain the security of our nation? We may have no choice then to increase national service to 3 or 4 years. Reservist training must be conducted at least twice a year, until we reach 50. Think twice before undermining the security of our nation by abolishing ISA.

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  • From Another Planet

    Abolish the ISA immediately?
    Hello, all of you siao eh?
    Where got so easy wan?

    Few written online articles plus some comments here and there and you expect the ruling party to back down so easily? So naive! Be patient, changes will come but slowly wan. Next election, when they lose more votes or when there are more oppositions being elected, then they will listen and maybe ‘consider’ ~ depending on how many seats they lose.

    Sun Tzu quote: 知彼知己,百战百胜!
    At the meantime, please dream on….

  • Robert Teh

    @Michael Lim Peng Liang

    You claimed that the netizens’ feedback on the abuses of ISA as populist.

    What is populist? Can you rob someone and get away with the robbery because jailing the robber is a populist demand of the people?

    Can you allow a bully to get away with his knuckle duster act at the end of cul de sac and say oh to stop the bullying act is a populist sentiment.

    You have to convince us that our leaders are people of virtue and righteousness before they be given the unquestioned authority to do as they like with unfettered ISA power to detain people without trial.

    For goodness sake, have some standards and don’t post nonsense here to insult people’s intelligence.

  • Michael Lim Peng Liang

    @Robert Teh

    Your comparison is flawed. How can you compare the ISD to robbers or bullies? The ISD is doing its job by detaining robbers & bullies, to make ours a safe society for all. If not for the ISD, do you think all of us can sleep peacefully at night?

  • RC

    “Singapore’s ruling elite runs a finely calibrated system of social and political
    control based on a mixture of monitoring and repression by the state, and
    self-monitoring and self-restraint by all elements of civil society. This system matured under Goh Chok Tong’s premiership in the 1990s but its template was created
    by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in the final years of his premiership with his handling of a fresh upsurge of social justice activism and dissent that was becoming increasingly brave. In response to these challenges he created a fanciful narrative about a “Marxist conspiracy” to overthrow the state and centered the main force of his allegations on a group of activists who were associated with the local Catholic Church. He accused them of being Marxists who had been subverted by the teachings of liberation theology and used the Internal Security Act to detain them and destroy their rather modest and innocent operations; their treatment provided both an exemplar to other groups and a model for the next generation of the ruling elite to follow. This article uses archival, oral, and secondary sources to build an account of these events with a particular focus on the motivations and activities of this group
    of Catholics and the motivations of the government—which essentially means the
    motivations of Lee Kuan Yew.”

    Michael D. Barr (2010): Marxists in Singapore? Critical Asian Studies, 42:3, 335-362.

  • anonymous

    i know you guys mean well, but you need better reasons than something that happened more than 20 yrs ago to convince people to think about the ISA. people then didnt think much about the arrests, they arent likely to act any differently today.

    good luck guys

  • DP

    @Micheal Lim

    You were spot on. “all harboured dangerous intentions of toppling our government”. In that statement itself, you have acknowledged the abuse of ISA to get rid of political opposition. Wanting to topple the PAP government is not a dangerous intention but a legitimate one as long as they do not resort to violence and do it through a democratic election process. However they way the ISA has been used is to detain anyone who are a political threat to the ruling government. That my friend is blatant abuse.Operation Coldstore is testimony to it and even the British agree.

  • Steve Wu

    “This Constitution is the supreme law of the Republic of Singapore and any law enacted by the Legislature after the commencement of this Constitution which is inconsistent with this Constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.” – Article 4, Constitution of the Republic of Singapore.

    Various sections of the ISA, particularly sections 8 and 13, are inconsistent with Article 151 of the Constitution. Other provisions are also inconsistent with the Articles 12 (“Equal Protection”) and 14 (“Freedom”).

    Blatant abuses of the ISA against polititcal opponents are unacceptable and inexcusable. The People shall soon see the penetrators, who had sworn to protect and defend the Constitution but went about doing the opposite, be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law.

  • http://Yttt Say No to Repression

    Everyone can see that the ISA is a handy tool, along with the GRC, and laws against assembly and free speech and disrespect for human rights, to fix the opposition and thus hang onto power. They are fools to snub public opinion. Whenever I see ministers on TV or the papers, the word FOOL comes readily to mind.

  • wuss

    that means in spite of the current challenges faced in terrorism, we are ready to live without ISA?

  • Kojakbt

    I would like to ask MHA this question: then why did Dhanabalan decide to leave the cabinet over the Marxist incident as told by Goh Chok Tong? So, looks like even a cabinet member, Dhanabalan, has doubts over the incident himself…

    “In 2009, ESM Goh Chok Tong revealed in his interviews for the SPH publication “Men in White: The Untold Stories of the PAP” that former National Development Minister S Dhanabalan decided to quit the Cabinet because he was not comfortable with the way the PAP had dealt with the “Marxist Conspiracy”.

    “At that time, given the information, he was not fully comfortable with the action we took…he felt uncomfortable and thought there could be more of such episodes in the future…he’d better leave the Cabinet. I respected him for his view,” Mr Goh said.

    Mr Dhanabalan said his reason for quitting, some 12 years later, was one of conviction: “My philosophy is one where I need to have complete conviction about some key policies and if I have differences, it doesn’t mean I am against the group……but I have to try and live with myself if I have some disagreements on some things,” he said.

    On May 21st 1987, 22 church workers, lawyers, businessmen, theatre practitioners and other professionals were detained without trial under the ISA and were accused of “being members of a dangerous Marxist conspiracy bent on subverting the PAP ruled government by force, and replacing it with a Marxist state”. A second wave of arrests took place on June 20th the same year.

    The operation was dubbed “Operation Spectrum” and was carried out by the Singapore’s Internal Security Department (ISD). This marked another sad episode in Singapore where ISA was again used to suppress opposition politicians and activists.”

  • Sidewinder

    I agree with most of the comments here. There has not been any election where the PAP did not have an unfair advantage which calls into question their legitimacy.
    The ISA was used openly in the past when the electorate were quite illiterate. It is used today as a threat if! Remember the LHL election speech when he subconsciously spilled that he would ‘fix’ fix the opposition.
    No government must have the ISA as its weaponry much less the PAP who have not been able to explain its actions under the ISA.

  • Michael Lim Peng Liang

    Many here are missing the point: the ISD acts as a pre-emptive force. No need to produce evidence, because by the time the evidence is produced, it is too late, the act of destabilization has already been committed. When it comes to national security, there can be no delay. As long as there is suspicion, the ISD must detain immediately, no questions asked. Waiting & hesistating only leads to trouble. The ISD acts as a decisive & deterrent force. Or else how do you think our nation has uninterrupted peace & stability since independence?

    In this era of terrorism, not only should the ISD not be abolished, but more funding should be given to ISD and its remit should be expanded (not just terrorism, espionage, racial tension) to include dissent, unlawful assembly, and any other non-compliance with laws, as long as deemed inappropriate by the ISD.

  • Father of Steven Kho aka Sissy Kho

    @ Micheal Lim Peng Liang

    Before ISA being abolish in SG. My bastard son Steven Kho, Usha Sitaram, Cancer spread to Aljunied, Chou Ah Lian and you should be detain by ISD for disrupting harmony and unity among Singaporeans. Btw I think you guys are the same person by using different names to create confusion. Prove me wrong if you dare. PUI…

  • ssmc

    ya lor, those who think the garmen will abolish isa now must be siao!

    if they do it now, will imply that malaysia boleh, and that the Singapore garmen only know how to follow other’s initiatives (just like our garmen only follow hongkong garmen’s initiatives in the minibond saga).

    so if our garmen want to follow Malaysia, pee am lee will probably leave till 2 days before election 2016, wayang wayang say sorry, say we heard u, say change is needed, then announce abolishing isa, to save pap from loosing the next election.

  • ssmc

    @michael lim peng lian
    >> Or else how do you think our nation has uninterrupted peace & stability since independence?

    ur.. how about by letting mas selamat escaped from the toilet, or by let civilianbroke into mrt depot TWICE?


    abolish canning, abolish dead sentence, abolish fine, allow law of the juggle.
    hwatever it is, we are better off now with all these law safer and less gangster.
    just becoz malaysia abolish we follow?
    look at england what happened? stupid riot

  • Chicharito

    Michael Lim Peng Liang 26 September 2011
    @Robert Teh

    Your comparison is flawed. How can you compare the ISD to robbers or bullies? The ISD is doing its job by detaining robbers & bullies, to make ours a safe society for all. If not for the ISD, do you think all of us can sleep peacefully at night?


    We don’t have to compare them as robbers or bullies.. They ARE robbers and bullies.. and so are you!! Looking at your past comments you are but a crook with flawed personality and zero moral value. Calling you a pervert or gangster would have been a compliment. Calling you inhuman would have been a bid more fitting. You wanna convince people to agree with your point of view? First you have to earn their respect. Now tell me in what way do you deserve any respect from anyone??!!
    So stop wasting your time and anybody’s time. You will convince no one here. (Regardless of what you call yourself) Get lost and stop your nonsense here. You are only making more people hate the pap and isd.
    But of course if that is really your objective then you can continue..

    Btw I have managed to convince quite a few people that pap and isd are flawed.. by showing them your comments!! (be it michael lim peng liang or steven kho or alvin chua or cancer spread to aljunied)
    So thank you very much for providing me with the ammunitions.. Happy 2016!!

  • DML


    Pls reinstate this as main article for longer time.

    The present lead story, abt hanging, is of little interest to most S’poreans. Seriously who will believe the convict’s story?

    This editorial is different.

  • Jah’rakal

    These communist troublemakers just won’t give up. I thought they challenge TT to call them communist so they can sue? Now MHA say loud loud, why not suing?

  • http://Yttt Say No to Repression

    Gaddafi, deposed leader of Libya, would love those who advocate the retention of the ISA.

  • nay1

    Tsk tsk. Many never learn. This is Singapore. Always is and always will be, the way it was initially planned to be, till end of time. Leave it to God and Karma to force changes. Nothing else will work. Boomz! :)

  • MayRulersBeRighteous

    If the British Secret Service unclassified files even revealed that Lim Chin Siong, the leader of Barisan Socialist who was detained under ISA in the 60s, cannot be proven to be a Communist, and Chen Ping, ex-Secretary General of the now dissolved Malayan Communist Party has testified in his biopgraphy ‘ My other side of the story’ that Lim Chin Siong was never a member of the MCP, then how can the PAP justify the use of ISA to detain these people just because they held opposing political beliefs ? ISA should be abolished long ago after the British relinquished its colonial rule of Singapore and Malaysia. It is an instrument used by the Colonial master for oppressive rule.

  • http://Yttt Gaddafi

    I also had repressive laws like your ISA with the excuse that it was the only way to keep tribal rivalries under control and so unite the country. But there were dogs who were not convinced and now I’m on the run. Well, I had had 40 good years. Not exactly Swiss standard but ok.

  • bobochacha

    ISA still in used to detain spies etc.

    Were the marxist conspirators political? Then why LTK and CST not detained?

  • Robert Teh

    @Michael Lim Peng Liang

    @Robert Teh

    Your comparison is flawed. How can you compare the ISD to robbers or bullies? The ISD is doing its job by detaining robbers & bullies, to make ours a safe society for all. If not for the ISD, do you think all of us can sleep peacefully at night?


    My point is a leader who resorts to threat to beat up people who oppose him with his knuckle duster at the end of the cul de sac is not very different from the robber.

    If such a leader acts like a bully in detaining people without trial, how is he to expect any one to believe him any more when he claims that he is detaining bad guys to protect the people.

    As a saying goes, a leader’s character is finally judged by how he uses his power.

    Think about this.

  • Eugene

    The proof is eating the pudding. If MHA alleges that these 203 detainees under ISA were meted out with incarceration not because of their political views but their subversive actions to destabilize Singapore.

    We demand MHA show us the proof of at least one where subversive actions had been halted or prevented due to the detention.

    Since these detentions have happened more that 20 years ago it is no more a risk to let Singaporeans know of MHA alturistic intent in these detentions. MHA is just the arrow but the one who used it is going to go scot free.

    No amount public relations, conventions, Grand Prix is going to change the demands made by the simple Singaporeans. SHOW US THE EVIDENCES FOR DETENTIONS OF THE 16 FOR OTHER THAN POLITICAL VIEWS.

  • doppelganger


    I bet you Eugene that you will be met by SILENCE.

  • XISA

    I do not believe MHA. The truth is the Op Coldstore and Op Spectrum detainees are innocent. ABOLISH ISA IMMEDIATELY!

  • blacktryst

    The ISA is a double-edged sword. Just like a gun, it can be an effective tool but it also can be easily abused by those in power, those in control and the ISA has certainly been abused to detained those political opposition members more often than of its true use. The PAP government and those in the inner circle is certainly culpable in using the ISA as a tool against political opposition. If there are truly real evidence of intent and plans of terrorism by the 16, then yes, show us evidence. But they refuse to and therefore, the PAP government is seriously abusing the ISA for their own political use. There are alternative laws and tools to be used against terrorists and the ISA is already a twisted tool/mechanism and therefore should be abolished.

  • Bernard CHAN

    Do not forget how the PAP got rid of those 08 gangs in the mid 1960s?

    How about the recent group of teenage gangs……wow they wanted to act like Hong Kong movie gangsters….going into the court room to support their buddies who were charged for killing another youth……………..the Singapore police arrested them!!!!!

    In Hong Kong, the police cannot do the same. Not in Canada.

    Bravo for the ISA……keep it that way!

  • getting the facts right…

    @ Bernard Chan,

    Please get your facts right.

    The teenage gang members arrested at the courts were apprehended under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act, which allows for detention without trial.

    Gangs can be dealt with under this Act. What is the point of the ISA?

    Again, if the concern is terrorism or espionage, the law ministry should stop being lazy – draft appropriate legislation specifically for it, for goodness sake. Pay you clowns so much for what???!!

  • http://Yttt Gaddafi

    Abolish your ISA immediately? From my 40 years experience in repressing the Libyan people, your pap…sorry PAP government should always have a weapon like the ISA in order to hang onto power as long as possible. My friend Mubarak of Egypt also did the same thing. Stupid to give up power easily. Worst comes to the worst, just flee to another country. I think Myanmar or North Korea would gladly welcome them.

  • If PAP got talent, no need ST & ISA

    No matter how useful ISA is (if it is), when there is even a minute chance that it can be abused resulting in severe consequence upon citizens lives, it must be done away with. It is for the same reason many countries ban guns. A gun can be very useful for protection but because there is chance that an owner can use it for killing others (usually enemies or adversaries), possessing a gun is illegal.

  • PAP cannot change history

    Despite PAP’s attempt to rewrite history, there is until today clearly no uncontrovertable evidence at all that Lim Chin Siong was a communist. The fact of an ISA detention does not support the allegation that he was a communist. That is the problem with using the legal process of the ISA. Not really a legal process as such. Won’t pass muster in any other first world country. It is easy for ignorant pro ISA supporters to talk up the fear factor of terrorists, which is consistent with PAP’s machiavellian tactic of scaremongering. The thing they fail to do is put themselves in the shoes of the innocents who suffer abuse under a system that does not have independent adjudication process. The people who run the system from the lowly guard in ISD to the IOs to the PS to the minister and the judicial officials know very well whether or not the whole process is a transparent and judicious system. They may not say out but they know. To admit even that it is a necessary evil would be a real admission of the real evil of the system.

  • e_nonymus

    ISA is a powerful tool against terrorism and such, but it is two sided knife.

    Does any country need such tool? YES
    Should the govt be in control? NO

    I would suggest that instead of doing away with the act, it would better to leave implementation to a team of multi-party leaders to arrive at a common decision.

    This would remove the political aspect from the issue and ensure that the entire spectrum of people’s representatives are wholly responsible for implementation.

  • YourMaMa

    @ Bernard CHAN

    Stop posting in forums after taking drugs pls….

  • Andrew K

    The ex-detainees such as Vincent Cheng & Teo Soh Lung took part in GE2006 under SDP banner.

    I think the opposition leaders are doing fine. They are not detained. They are not worried.

    How come the commentators here are worried?

  • kookoo

    Andrew K 27 September 2011
    The ex-detainees such as Vincent Cheng & Teo Soh Lung took part in GE2006 under SDP banner.

    I think the opposition leaders are doing fine. They are not detained. They are not worried.


    hey asshole, teo soh lung was previously detained and the media played this up, painting her as a criminal in the eyes of the public. who will vote for her then? why was she wrongly detained in the 1st place?

    go fart yourself, you self-serving bastard, and one day, may your children be detained by ISD indefinitely and rot in the ISD cell.

  • Bumi

    If Singapore Home Affairs ministry and the IS department don’t know how to keep the arrested and let them escape, call Bukit Ampang at toll free 0006-NEEDHELP.
    We can safegaurd the Pap interests cos now they got money and are willing to spend on these activites.

  • S’poreans & their bo chap attitude…

    To those who ask why bother speaking up for others who were wrongly arrested, their attitude itself is repulsive, apathetic and simply pathetic.

    When injustice abounds, how can we sit still and pretend nothing is wrong?

    And if you are not one to be proactive and help, at least don’t be a hindrance to others who have the guts to speak up for the rights of others.

    This is not just idle academic debate. This is the shaping of public attitudes towards caring for other people’s lives.

    So if you are flippant about people losing their freedom, it only shows a lack of empathy and sense of justice.

    If the govt is not willing to acknowledge their previous wrongdoing, at least scrap the ISA so no further wrong can be done.

    When pap can return to principles and a sense of right and wrong, then they will be worth voting for. Now they are pure rationality without a heart. They lost their conscience when they grew in power. Now they simply disdain the masses.

  • why we must abolish the ISA

    1. Human beings are meant to live freely. Governments need justification to curb or limit that freedom.

    2. This is why laws, which come with sanctions and coercion, need to be justified in parliament. Laws need to detail very specifically which freedoms should be curtailed and under what circumstances. Hence, a law enables but it also circumscribes or limits. It enables something to be done. But it must also be clear where its limits lie.

    3. The ISA does not fit the bill of what a law should be as detailed in 2. It enables but it does not adequately circumscribe or limit what can be done. The ISA gives too much room and power for authority (i.e. the govt) to act as they please.

    4. The ISA therefore does not fit the bill as a proper law at all, since it does not explicitly circumscribe or limit itself. The only limits are defined by the government under cloak of darkness or general statements about “public interest”, beyond the reach of independent (a key requirement) 3rd party examination.

    5. The pap is fond of talking about “freak elections”, as if anything apart from them is freakish. But if the opposition gains power, will the pap not tremble in their panties that the ISA might be used against them? Would they not then howl at its injustice? The ISA IS, after all, unconstitutional. So why the double standards?

    6. Conclusion? Abolish the ISA. As one famous comedian put it, “Be a man. Do the right thing!”

  • doppelganger

    It shows that LKY is true to his upbringing. Now for 50 years he is the godfather of the ISD. The Cambridge education and the gentrification of holding high office for decades never rubbed off on him.He still thinks like a gangster chief who would order his men to hide before a showdown the weapons, consisting of parangs, bicycle chains, knuckle-dusters etc in drains and every nook and corner of the predetermined battle area. In later life he used the Rule of Law and State Institutions in every nook and corner of his territory. That’s how he abolished effective opposition in his reign. Opposition parties are likened to rival gangs. He always has the judiciary and the political police doing his work on the opposition. Tasek Utara which was the old name of the Norfolk area was infested with gangs of mainly Malay (Boyan) and Hokkien groups dividing the area into territories over which they fought frequently. LKY, I understand lived there in his boyhood and youth. He must have imbibed the culture of violence very well and used it to successfully become the kingpin we all have to submit to.

  • divine

    Kuan Yew, may God forgive you…

    For imprisoning innocent men and woman and subjecting them to freedom,

    For breaking up families of innocent men and women,

    For lying to your own people,

    For installing a climate of fear,

    Through the use of ISA,

    All these terrible things done, just to keep PAP in power

  • divine

    subjecting them to torture, I mean


    We are still an infant country and is still vulnerable to subversions and threats to our national security, of sorts. Our wealth and small size make us even more vulnerable to predators.

    The reality is that we are also surrounded by less-than-friendly countries who are waiting to “skin us alive” if given a chance to do so. Weak leadership and complacency are some of the openings they are looking for.

    The latest trends towards terrorism added a new dimension to the threats against us.

    I plead with the Government not to repeal the ISA which has proven to be a powerfull tool to deter anyone from destablising and terrorising our young and peaceful country.

  • Bumi

    @ Beneo

    We in Malaysia are more than happy to assist the PAP control the young Singaporeans who are ungrateful to PAP.
    Hire us in your security agencies and we will spank the lads.
    Give us citizenship and make us ministers and teach us the hard truths of Singapore and we will implement it till LKY is around.

    After LKY die don’t ask me it is free for all and the most tyrant and cruel gets the prize. Hahahahaha

  • Oh Tham Eng


    The United States’ strained relationship with Pakistan has grown more tense after 50 influential imams and religious leaders there threatened a jihad if the U.S. attacks the nuclear-armed country. Which means that Singapore will also be under greater risks of attacks by islamic terrorists too as Singapore is a good friend of the U.S. Therefore, it is the wrong time to advocate the abolishing of our ISA.

    An security analyst told that “The threat should be taken seriously and not discounted as thes are 50 very influential Imams and religious leaders who want a holy war against the U.S. …and they call for scholars, religious leaders to start urging the military rank-and-file to participate or prepare for jihad or holy war against the U.S…..”

    The religious leaders threatening jihad are associated with the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), a coalition of local groups….The scholars urged the Pakistani government to end the country’s role in the war on terrorism and to try to establish a new international bloc made up of China, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    …The call by so many clerics is unusual, which means that a significant political force is behind this open call…..which could mean that figures in intelligence circles could be behind it, too. He noted that it comes as jihadi and Taliban attacks are escalating, which could show coordination between cells on the ground and clerics.

    Speaking from two corners of her mouth, Pakisan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar insisted to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday 27/9/2011 that the government is part of the solution in Afghanistan…..after her warning to U. S. to stop accusing it of playing a double game with Islamist militants and as it showered praise on China. So the U.S. must deal with the threat of a jihad that security analysts warn would create serious problems for the U.S. as it tries to end violence originating in Pakistan — and the Pakistani government can’t be trusted, even if there’s no alternative.

    Last week, Adm. Mike Mullen,…linked the Haqqani network, the most violent faction among Taliban militants in Afghanistan, to Pakistan. “The Haqqani network, for one, acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s internal services intelligence agency,” Mullen said.

    Pakistan officials denied the allegations their intelligence service was behind the June attack on Intercontinental Hotel, and three months later, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. U.S. defense officials, said they found the cell phones of the Haqqani network attackers who kept the Embassy under siege for 20 hours, and those phones showed the attackers were connected to the ISI.



    I plead with the Government not to repeal the ISA which has proven to be a powerfull tool to deter anyone from destablising and terrorising our young and peaceful country.
    the cia been usin drone missles to hit terrorist/druglords foreign based with deadly accuracy..nobody can even feels a drone missles comin….
    so why is there a needs for isd/isa laws?


    There was a cockroach in our kitchen. I harnessed my whole family, some armed with knives and sticks and other sharp weapons. We repeatedly hit at the little terrorist, but to no avail. It was too fast and elusive. The kitchen was turned into a mess, and suffered collateral damage. It looked like a mini Afghanistan.

    Finally, I decided to use a bunch of newspapers, a so-called blunt instrument. With one single stroke I killed the pest. It proved that blunt instruments are more effective in dealing with terrorists and subversion. Like some people said, “Different Strokes For Different Folks”.

    Without the ISA, Singapore would have been subverted and a victim of terrorism, many times over. It has deterred would-be subversive elements and terrorists alike all these years. Without it, Singapore would not be able to achieve its present status as an independent, wealthy, strong, progressive, cohesive, and peaceful country, capable of punching above its weight. Therefore, the ISA must stay and continue to protect the interest of Singapore and Singaporeans.

  • http://= aintshestupid

    I find it very difficult to understand how the minds of some Singaporeans work..after all these years of Pappies rule.
    Remember its THEIR country. We only live here.

    Nothing will change until the Man goes to the happy hunting ground.

    All the shouting,and screaming for this gahmen to abolish falling on deaf ears.
    This gahmen aint going to listen to no one.
    The Editors of the lap dog ST have no b***s to write anout it.

    So why not we give this a rest.
    What you can do is shut up your mouth, and stop buying a SPH paper.

  • utter rubbish


    Ah Thumb, you are the looney deadbeat who used to advocate demon-crazy when tru blu Sinkapooreans were demanding democracy. Are you still praying to the demon-crazy god that your mashed-up brain created? Has he promised you the multi million $$$$$ minister’s job that you have been craving and salivating for all your miserable wasted life and for which you endlessly suck and lick on those PAPayas? Or are you still hanging on to the job of arse scratcher, the one that you are so eminently suited for? Perhaps the endless queue of virgins is still there in your personal lalaland, jostling with each other while waiting impatiently for you to bestow your favour on them.

    You truly are the craziest old sonofabitch who has ever appeared in the pages of TRE and TOC, or anywhere else in the blogosphere for that matter. If there is such a title you surely will win hands down the honour of being called the mother of all madcaps!

    You Ah Thumb label all who disagree with you as jihadists, totally disregarding whether such folks are even muslims or not in the first instance. This shows how seriously demented you are. You delude yourself to the extent that you ignore everything around you and create your own truth in your little upside-down world. You are so far gone that all the electroconvulsive treatments you received in the madhouse have gone down the drain. What Glenn Ong said about putting mad dogs like you to sleep is wrong and cruel but in your case Ah Thumb netizens will readily forgive him for saying that. And the internet will be a better place for it when they take you away.

  • di

    Oh Thumb Eng, sumthin’ for u -

  • ee