: The abolition of the Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) was a mistake and the government could repeat the same mistake if it continued to repeal the Sedition Act 1948, said a former court of appeal judge.
"I looked back behind the repeal of the ISA, and I can say it is a big mistake," said Datuk Mohd Noor Abdullah during a forum 'ISA: Is it still relevant?' organised by Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa).
According to Mohd Noor, one point that caused a setback to the ISA was that the court could not review the Home Minister's decision to detain an individual under the ISA.
"That is wrong. Who's going to question the decision of the minister? People bash the ISA because the minister has absolute power and cannot be reviewed by the court.
"The solution is not to abolish ISA. The solution is to give power to the court to review the Minister’s decision on whether a person is deemed a security threat," he said at K Club in Taman Melawati here yesterday evening.
Mohd Noor also spoke about the need for the Sedition Act as Malaysia is unique with people of various races, ethnicity and religion.
He also pointed out that there were more differences than similarities, and people rarely talked about the similarities, focusing more on differences especially in terms of rights.
"Strict action should be taken to those who attempt to incite unrest between the different ethnic groups. More measures should be added to the Sedition Act in order to strengthen it. A seditious act should be a registered offense under the Prevention of Crime Act," he said.
Mohd Noor also noted some individuals might utter seditious statements, only to retract it later and offer an apology.
"Do not be gentle and follow the Western democracy on human rights and the right to speak. A mistake is still a mistake. The law should be enforced,” he said.
Forum panelists include (from left) moderator Dr Shamsuddin Moner, Mohd Noor, Musa and Ibrahim -- BERNAMApic
Former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan, who also spoke at the forum, said people often criticised ISA in terms of preventive detention. However, ISA was also needed to maintain the peace and security of the country.
"It is also designed to prevent crimes such as gangsterism, human smuggling and Ah Long activities," he said.
"When the ISA and the Emergency Ordinance (EO) were repealed, all offenders such as gangsters had to be released. When it was repealed, the right to freedom and the public’s rights are under threat.
"There is goodness in every law but people should not abuse that power,” he said.
Musa said the laws in Malaysia were created to face many challenges and threats.
"The threat that still exists in this country is racial conflict. We are a unique country because we are multi-racial so we need to keep our harmony. To maintain this harmony, there should be a law to prevent any person from making a move that could threaten the country’s national security," he said.
He also disagreed with the government's proposal to repeal the Sedition Act.
"The Sedition Act was created to prevent any person from inciting racial tension. This Act must be maintained, if not it could damage the country’s security.
"We (security forces) take care of security, not politics," added Musa.
A campaign to collect signatures in support of the Sedition Act 1948 took place at the forum. - Astro AWANI/Syafique Shuib
Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali also said the repeal of the ISA was a political act and not made in the best interest of national security.
"After the elections in 2008 and also the period leading up to the 13th General Election (GE13) to win back the desired two-thirds majority, they (Barisan Nasional) might think that abolition of ISA could be a popular move. It was a popular decision to garner the support of the people.
"Many don't really know about the ISA. They might know it as detention without trial for two years. Nobody cared but some will know that the spirit of ISA is, prevention is better than cure," he said.
Ibrahim said laws such as the ISA was not only to protect the interests of certain races.
"Those who don't agree with the ISA are originally the opposition parties and certain races that support the opposition. The ISA is actually for the safety of Malaysians, not just the Malays," he said.
He also supports efforts to maintain the Sedition Act.
"We have to fight and cannot depend on the government alone. This is in the interest of national security," Ibrahim added.