by Teo Soh Lung
I didn’t know that the 20 odd Singaporeans who are presently detained under the ISA were all gazetted as terrorists in 2015 until yesterday (29 Sep).
Their names are listed in the First Schedule of the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act (TSFA). That long list of about 42 people includes Bangladeshi and Indonesia workers who were initially arrested and detained under the ISA but were subsequently charged under the TSFA and convicted. Some of them are still serving their prison sentences.
Strangely, one of the 42 is supposedly dead in the Philippines, and the other is suspected to be in Syria. His HDB flat has however, been ordered to be sold by the court.
The Singapore government has never before used the TSFA against ISA detainees until 2015 even though that law was enacted in 2002. Before 2015, it has never gazetted ISA prisoners as terrorists and rightly so because all of them have never been tried in open court and are not guilty of the allegations made against them. So why did the Minister decide to gazette them as terrorists?
For 13 years he didn’t deem it necessary to blacklist them as terrorists. Why now? Are we to expect that future ISA detainees (here I hope there will not be another ISA detainee) will all be gazetted as terrorists? Should the Minister be entitled to exercise his discretion in this way? Clearly, it is an abuse of the rule of law which Singapore likes to claim it has.
Why gazette a detainee as a terrorist when he is already down and out with indefinite detention without trial? Why gazette poor migrant workers who are already serving prison sentences of between two to five years? Maybe the Minister is thinking of impoverishing these detainees as the properties of terrorists can be confiscated by the State under the TSFA.
Singapore’s ISA prisoners today are all Muslims. Their detention record may have beaten that of Guantanamo prisoners.
Haji Ibrahim bin Haji Maidin, a condominium manager, has been in prison since December 2001. Alahuddeen bin Abdullah and Mohd Aslam bin Yar Ali Khan were detained in 2002. Nearly 20 years! Soon they will also surpass the record of our longest political prisoner, Dr Chia Thye Poh, who spent 26 years in jail for his political beliefs and another six under severe restrictions.
I wish parliamentarians will raise the plight of ISA detainees in parliament. Mr Chiam See Tong and the late Mr JBJ did when they were in parliament. I wish Muslims will question why they cannot be released.
Are the prisoners all forgotten?