ALB: ISA Deceptions and Budget Goodies

From the Selangor Times Issue 43, 7-9 Oct 2011. Ask Lord Bobo is a weekly column by LoyarBurok where all your profound, abstruse, erudite, hermetic, recondite, sagacious, and other thesaurus-described queries are answered!

Can you please explain the mechanism for repealing the ISA in Parliament as well as the replacement of it by the two new laws? What kind of majority is required to carry the motion and what are its implications in view of the current composition of Parliament? Keep up the good work! I never miss your column in Selangor Times each week! (Loyarbochor, via email)

The mechanism is relatively simple. However, the process, and the outcome, is anyone’s guess.

Firstly, the Prime Minister and Cabinet must actually have meant what they said. They must then inform the officers in the Attorney General’s Chambers, and particularly the Parliamentary Draftsman (or, more accurately Draftswoman as its current occupant is the lovely Dato’ Engku Nor Faizah binti Engku Atek). The Bills must be drafted, and presented in Parliament. A simple majority of the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara must approve the Bills, and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong must give the Royal Assent. The Bill must then be published in the Government Gazette.

However, the lawyers in the Attorney General’s Chambers will follow the lead of their political masters. They will have to “consult” with the civil servants in the Home Affairs Ministry, as well as the police. It would hardly come as a surprise if these parties request that they enact the laws in such a way that is most efficacious for detaining whoever the police or Home Affairs Ministry people want detained. Such things as judicial oversight, the importance of fundamental liberties and human rights may naturally take a back seat, notwithstanding the bold words of the Prime Minister. Whatever agenda or campaign the Prime Minister may be embarking on at the moment (some say it is reform, some say it is pure PR smoke and mirrors), it does not take a wonder-typewriting monkey from cyberspace to tell you that there will be some dissent within the ranks. Not many individuals and institutions would readily surrender precious and much-wielded weapons such as these.

Since a simple majority is all that is required, the Bills will have no problems passing through Parliament. The interesting question is what the Opposition will do, and whether civil society will accept the Bills that will replace the ISA. As has been pointed out, SUHAKAM has already provided all the key elements that must be put in place to replace the ISA in 2003 in their “Review of the Internal Security Act 1960” which includes recommendations for reform of various other laws as well. Many lauded SUHAKAM’s recommendations. Many have suggested that the Attorney General’s Chambers could use the SUHAKAM recommendations as a base for widespread and long-awaited reforms to the law. Many should not hold their breath anticipating that this will be what transpires. The process then, is straightforward, but it is the contents of these new laws that will likely result in the most debate, and uncertainty.

The government has announced that the ISA can only be repealed in March as it needs to consult stakeholders to ensure that it is done properly. Worryingly though, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said that the government needs to be cautious in repealing the ISA because “if we have no new law, then we must immediately release terrorists currently detained under the ISA”. This is worrying because Nazri is the de facto law minister, and this statement displays an ignorance of the law.

Legally, a repeal would not invalidate previous actions under the ISA. The detention orders which were issued under the ISA would continue to be operational, and completely valid. To offer this as a reason for delaying the repeal of the ISA is at the very least disingenuous, and possibly even a blatant deception. It definitely misleads the public as to the legal position.

Lord Bobo, like many proponents of civil liberties and justice, is looking forward to reading through the contents of these two replacement laws. It is hoped that their contents will match the Prime Minister’s bold words on the eve of Malaysia Day. As politicians from all parties continue to spin this issue for their own agendas, His Supreme Eminenceness urges all Malaysians to continue to read up, stand up, and speak up for what is right, and keep all parties accountable.

Dear Lord Bobo, if you were the PM, what goodies would you put in the Budget to win over Malaysians? (Gold Digga, via email)

Lord Bobo sighs. And when His Banananess sighs, entire galaxies shudder. But such is the sad state of Malaysian politics, economics, soci… well, just the state of Malaysia in general, that Lord Bobo cannot help but sigh. Everything seems geared towards “winning votes” or “wooing the public”. This is not what politicians should be doing.

Politicians should be representing the rakyat in bread and butter matters, instead of trying to do what “looks” best. Similarly, the government should not be in a 24-7 PR spin, image-management mode. When thinking up the Budget, the government should be formulating what is best for the country moving forward, not what “goodies” will make the rakyat happy.

It is sad, but it is true. And it is true, because that is what the people have allowed it to become. Because, the truth is, the majority of Malaysians do value these “goodies”. There’s nothing wrong with that. But we must also remind ourselves to continue to strive for other deliverables, other core issues. We must make our politicians realise that our votes will not be won just because petrol prices are lowered, or the income tax rate is reduced. If our votes are so easily swayed, then we only have ourselves to blame if the government only takes care of us in the run-up to a general elections.

Have a question for Lord Bobo? Call on His Supreme Eminenceness by emailing [email protected], stating your full name, and a pseudonym (if you want), or tweeting your questions by mentioning @LoyarBurok and using the hashtag #asklordbobo. What the hell are you waiting for? Hear This, and Tremblingly Obey (although trembling is optional if you are somewhere very warm)! Liberavi Animam Meam! I Have Freed My Spirit!

You can read archives of all the Ask Lord Bobo columns by clicking here. These are the divinely-inspired words of His Supreme Eminenceness Lord Bobo Barnabus PhD SP GBE OMGWTFBBQ.


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Ask Lord Bobo is a weekly column by LoyarBurok where all your profound, abstruse, erudite, hermetic, recondite, sagacious, and other thesaurus-described queries are answered! It is the ONLY place that His Supreme Eminenceness' thoughts are regularly channeled, via His Lordship's most loyal meditating purple-banana munching minions.

Posted on 14 October 2011. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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