Ask Lord Bobo: Did you really believe the ISA was gone forever?

This column was first published on The Malaysian Insider.

Lord Bobo, is the Internal Security Act (“ISA”) really coming back? (Anti-ISA, via email)

You know those thriller movies which end with the hero throwing the homicidal, crazed villain off the building and then turning around to give a coy-yet-triumphant smile at the saucy scantily-clad damsel he just saved, and standing stoically with his bloody wounds and torn shirt for her to approach him and give him a kiss but you know the scene isn’t over because they haven’t played the uplifting triumphant soundtrack music yet and there’s still a hint of menacing bass and strings in the background but the hero and the damsel don’t know because they don’t get to hear the background music so they’re about to get into smoochy mode, because you know after he saved her ass that’s the least she could do to reward him even though they are both sweaty, bloodied and not smelling their best?

If you don’t, then stop reading now and go watch at least 11 of those movies, then continue reading.

If you do, then the ISA is something like that. It’s like that homicidal, crazed villain that went off the side of the building but did not fall to his death (next time get the MACC, we hear those guys are very efficient) but instead survived by catching himself on the building ledge with his pinkies (that’s right, his pinkies, cos he’s THAT tough) and then starts making his way back to the top – left pinky, right pinky, left pinky, right… – until he gets all the way up to the top and by then hero and damsel are in Frenchie mode and oblivious to their surroundings.

Needless to say, the soundtrack music at this point would fast-forward to some post-modern crap with a whole lot of senseless strings zigging and zagging away (and some distant horns and trumpets to add to the cacophony).

The villain is tired, bloodied, his pinkies hurt, but he will not be deterred. He pulls out his massive 13-incher, a 13-inch serrated hunting knife he kept up his arse for emergencies like these, and then plunges it into both of them, skewering them like shishkabob on a Saturday BBQ night in Tanganyika. Soundtrack music is just going ape-shit now. He twists and twists the knife like he’s Vanna White and it’s the last episode of Wheel of Fortune and then boom-boom-pow, both hero and damsel fall to the ground, still in their tongue-locked embrace.

The villain then shuffles off slowly into the darkness. The scene fades out with a sombre deep bass soundtrack music with a gentle Hungarian polka number in the background.

So yeah, the ISA was always going to come back. If you thought otherwise, you’re a naïve fool who needs to pay more attention to the background music. And now it is going to come back very, very soon. It’s gonna come back like how we described it, or in a slightly-less-dramatic fashion. So don’t believe the hype, the hoopla, or the mainstream media. Because true evil never gets repealed. It just gets statutorised with a nicer benign sounding name. (Cue Carmina Burana by the Transylvania Choir. Roll credits.)

Dear Lord Bobo, are the proposed amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act really as bad as those Opposition fellas are painting it out to be? (Tun Seng, via email)

The devil can take on many forms. Most recently, the devil is taking the form of the Prevention of Crime (Amendment and Extension) Act 2013 (“PCA Amendments”). The PCA Amendments reintroduce the 2-year detention without trial, which gained notoriety under the ISA. The PCA Amendments also introduce an ouster clause which was also present in the ISA.

The PCA Amendments come as no surprise. It is not “transformational” as claimed by our dear Home Minister (who astounded everyone with the ability to use a pentasyllabic word). It is a repackaging of a tried and tested piece of legislation which allows an individual’s fundamental rights to be violated.

A 2-year detention period which is renewable indefinitely is not something unique to the ISA. The ISA’s close cousin, the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985, also has an almost identical clause, as well as an ouster clause. Some traits just run in the family.

Under the PCA Amendments, a person can be detained for 2 years if the Board is satisfied that the detention is necessary in the interest of public order, public security or prevention of crime. The terms “public order”, “public security”, or “prevention of crime” are very vague terms with no specific definition. The risk of having such vague terms as a reason for detention without trial is that it obviously creates the possibility of abuse. And it is worth remembering that this tool would be placed in the hands of a government which is no stranger to abusing its powers. The ISA was used on political opponents, and the Sedition Act was used to stifle freedom of expression. This is a government of endless possibilities.

Just like the ISA, the 2-year detention in the PCA Amendments can be renewed indefinitely. Thanks to the new ouster clause, the decision of the Board to direct someone to be detained cannot be questioned in Court except on procedural grounds. This means that the Court cannot determine whether the decision of the Board is merited. The Court cannot question whether the detention of a person is indeed necessary for public order, public security, or prevention of crime.

Frankly, whether or not there is an ouster clause matters little unless there is an independent and fearless judiciary. An ouster clause can be struck down by the judiciary for being unconstitutional. The judiciary has in the past shied away from dealing with difficult questions affecting rights. The judiciary has in the past decided cases contrary to the spirit of the Federal Constitution.

Until and unless we have a judiciary that is willing to act as the bulwark of our rights, the oppression by the government will continue. This time, the devil has a new form. Who knows what form the devil will take next?

Lord Bobo, what do you think of Hasan Malek urging road-users to give way to police outriders escorting royalty or VIPs? (Rempit, via email)

Ah yes, Lord Bobo heard of this Hasan Malek fella, the Cabinet minister who urged road-users to give way to outriders escorting royalty or VIPs. According to this minister, doing so should come naturally, as it is “Malaysian culture”. He also added that getting out of the way is important, because these VIPs had official duties to carry out and needed to get to their destination in time. You know, unlike the rest of the population who don’t have anything important to do and can afford to get stuck in traffic.

Anyway, a lot has been said in response to the statement by this minister, and there really is no need to dwell on it, for two reasons.

Firstly, he is not alone in having this flawed, moronic mindset. So many of these politicians think that they are Very Important People who deserve police escorts on the way to their Very Important Business, where they will not doubt be greeted at their destination with red-carpets and much kow-tow-ing as befits their status as Very Important People. Hasan Malek is not the only politician who has long-forgotten that he is answerable to the people – not the other way around. It is difficult to think straight when you’re constantly exposed to the wailing sirens of your police outriders, and the noxious fumes of fresh red carpets.

Secondly, this “urging” which the minister gives is irrelevant anyway. Any Malaysian knows that when you hear the siren of police outriders, you better bloody well get out of the way in double quick time. Because, although the minister rightly pointed out that the law doesn’t require road-users to give way, our police aren’t usually concerned with trifling issues such as “the law”, and will not hesitate to scream at you, and punch or kick your car to ensure that you get outta the way as quickly as possible.

Although Lord Bobo already knows your question before you even knew you had a question, as a practical display of your true desire to have your query answered, His Supreme Eminenceness has graciously allowed you to communicate your questions by either emailing [email protected] or tweeting your question, mentioning @LoyarBurok and using the hashtag #AskLordBobo. Now, what the hell are you waiting for? Hear This and Tremblingly Obey (although trembling is optional if you are somewhere very warm)!


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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 3 October 2013. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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One Response to Ask Lord Bobo: Did you really believe the ISA was gone forever?

  1. Amazingly scene fades out with a sombre deep bass soundtrack music with gentle Hungarian polka number in the background.