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Singapore will remain as the only “first world country” to reject the people’s basic right to fair and open trial

by Function 8

On 11 May 2018, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced the detention without trial under the Internal Security Act (ISA) of Mohamed Faishal bin Mohd Razali (Faishal), a 27-year-old parking warden. Presumably, he was issued a detention order in April and was arrested a month earlier.

With the arrest and detention of Faishal, there are now 22 people detained under our notorious ISA. Three of the 22 have now been in prison for more than 16 years.

When Malaysia repealed her Internal Security Act in 2011, sixteen former ISA prisoners detained from 1963 to 1990 issued a statement calling upon the Singapore government to do likewise. The Ministry of Home Affairs responded with the usual Cold War parlance, alleging that the detainees were involved in “Communist United Front activities” and a “Marxist plot”. In response, the former detainees called upon the government set up an independent commission of inquiry to investigate their arrests and detention. The call went unheeded to this day.

While it is true that after the repeal of the ISA, Malaysia enacted several unjust laws such as the Security Offences Act (SOSMA), the Prevention of Crime Act (POCA) and others, these laws may now be swiftly repealed with the change of government on 9 May 2018 and the appointment of constitutional law expert, Mr Tommy Thomas as the Attorney General. Mr Thomas has promised that Malaysia will be governed by the Rule of Law and due process will be strictly observed. Sixty years of mismanagement of the judicial system by the BN government will be righted.

Sadly, it is unlikely that the present Singapore government will ever stop using the ISA. The ISA is an indispensable crutch. The government will not know how to rule without this law.

Singapore will, therefore, remain the only first world country to reject the people's basic right to fair and open trial