He should already quit
Posted September 14, 2008on:
|Law minister threatens to quit over ISA|
|Beh Lih Yi | Sep 14, 08 2:42pm|
|De facto Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim today threatened to resign if the government continued to use the Internal Security Act, which he described as ‘unjust’.
The outspoken Barisan Nasional politician also called for the immediate release of DAP MP Teresa Kok and controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin who were held under the security law which provides for detention without trial.
“We have a government that commits to laws and reforms, we can’t be using old-style politics or resort to creating fear. We have laws and they (the detainees) can be charged in court.
“I am trying to meet with Prime Minister (Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) this week to convey to him my position. If (he considers) my position untenable, I will leave,” he told Malaysiakini in a telephone interview from Kota Baru, Kelantan.
The minister, who is a lawyer by training, held a press conference in Kota Baru earlier, where he also spoke on the same matter.
Zaid, who is the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department overseeing legal matters, said his position on the ISA is that the law should only be used to curb terrorism, the reason why it was enacted.
“The problem with the ISA now is that it is used against certain people, it is a very unjust law,” he added.
The ISA is a relic from the British which used the law to battle the communist insurgency. The Act earned notoriety after it was invoked by the government to stifle dissent, leading many to call for its abolition.
However, the government has continued to defend the relevance of the law on the grounds of national security.
Commenting further, Zaid said: “I am very sad that people like Teresa (right), who I know personally, can be seen as a threat. I can’t see how a journalist doing her duty or even Raja Petra can be seen as a national threat.
“If their statements upset certain people, let the police investigate,” the minister said, adding that he did not see the need for the government to use such a “strong-arm tactic.”Zaid, who is the former Kota Baru MP, was made a senator and named as minister in charge of legal affairs during the cabinet reshuffle by premier Abdullah in March.
His appointment was lauded by many quarters, especially within the legal fraternity, as it was seen as a gesture by the prime minister to honour his pledge for judiciary reforms.
‘A setback to judiciary reforms’
However, Zaid lamented that the latest ISA arrests dealt a blow to his six-month-long task of trying to regenerate the judiciary.
In relation to the concept of collective responsibility, the minister acknowledged that his views on certain matters do not go down well with his cabinet colleagues.
“I don’t want to make it difficult for him (Abdullah). If my views are inconsistent or unsuitable (to that of the cabinet’s), I can leave the government.
“It is a setback (on my work). The government wanted to change certain things otherwise they don’t need me (to be in the cabinet),” he said.
Friday’s ISA crackdown began with Raja Petra, who has targeted government figures on his website Malaysia Today. He was detained at 1.10pm.
Tan Hoon Cheng, a journalist for the Chinese language Sin Chew Daily, was later arrested at about 8.30pm.
She was detained in connection with her report regarding the derogatory remarks made by an Umno leader against the Chinese community which led to a national uproar.
Close to midnight, DAP MP and Selangor senior state exco Teresa Kok was detained outside her condominium.
The arrests elicited a round of strong protests from all quarters, including those within the BN component parties.
Journalist Tan was released yesterday after being held for less than 24 hours and Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar explained that her detention was “to ensure her safety.”