ISA: The democratically enacted tool for the defense of the realm

Most probably the majority of us Malaysians took the blanket of security that had been provided for most of us to sleep better at night, for granted. While we live peacefully enduring our daily lives, we never stopped to ponder how this nation of multi-pluralism enigma of various ethnic, culture, faith and political belief co-exist in harmony and more importantly, uneventful.

Malaysia is inherently volatile in many counts. The variables of the diversity in multi ethnic, culture, faith, historical and socio-economic background is an ingredient to prolong trouble. And yet, despite the birth of this nation was actually during a bloody insurgency war, Malaysia is stable and harmonious enough to promote growth, progress and expansion that enables the country which was one time dependent on primary industries transformed into one of the progressive economic tiger in Asia.

The threat of security comes from various front. Despite winning against the armed rebellion of communist terrorists officially declared on 16 September 1948 and ended on 1960, the insurgency war did not end till 2 December 1989 where the Malayan Peoples’ Liberation Army signed a truce treaty known as the ‘Hadyaii Accord’.

The insurgency was continued beyond 1960 via the ‘Communist United Front’ where communist supporters and advocates wiggle themselves in various workers movement, especially the trade unions. They also fortified their political fronts via legitimate political parties such as the Socialist Front, Socialist Party and Workers Party. Then they are believed to organise themselves via Peoples’ Action Party. The use the universal socialist voice to instigate the workers via these organisations.

Of course they changed their strategy by deploying new tactics of ‘engaging (to a point, manipulating) the sentiments of the masses’ as oppose waging an unwinable war via guerrilla warfare. Getting the lower and  lower middle class to rise against the ruling class via ‘universally and liberally correct’ arguments that could actually be used to instigate the working class to rise against the establishment. Case in point: the 13 May 1969 racial riots where DAP in tandemwith Gerakan and Social Party instigated the minority Chinese to insult the majority Malays after the neck-to-neck general elections win.

Then the Iranian Revolution of 1978 brought new dimension into militant Islamist movements previously never seen of, which Malaysian was not spared. More and more imported militant politics were sowed into the hearts and imaginations of the more ‘innocent’ Malays to ‘revolt’ against the ruling government for “Not upholding Islamic law and Malaysia is not an Islamic state”. At the same time, the war against Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan brewed more Malaysians into para-military and guerrilla warfare.

The militancy amongst the Malay Muslim majority reached its alarming point when the ‘Memali Incident’ happened in November 1985. Much later, the Islamist cult movement Al Arqam also weaved its way into the hearts of the Malay Muslims and the leader now aspire be the ‘Prime Minister’.

Militant Islamist Movements reached its peak when Kumpulan Mujahiddin Malaysia (MM) and Jemaah Islamiah (JI) activities were discovered by chance when a group of professionals staged an armed robbery at the Southern Bank Bhd branch in Petaling Jaya, sometime in 2000. Then there was the ‘Bukit Jenalik’ armed heist incident where the Al Maunah group snatched automatic weapons, to wage a  war against HM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agong.

In the same breadth, attempts were made to strike against the Hindu Complex of Batu Caves and the Anchor-Guinness factory.

All of these were contained and did not escalate into something ugly. It was because of one simple tool enacted by the process of democracy to preserve democracy, although the modus operandi is deeemd to be ‘undemocratic’: Internal Security Act (ISA).

ISA is a tool introduced by the British during the ‘Emergency’ which was known as the ‘Emergency Ordinance’. On 15 August 1960, the Dewan Rakyat passed the ISA for the notion that the defense of the realm needed to be protected by persons of ill intent and the process of law simply too messy and lengthy, which could provide the space and opportunity of the perpetrators to escape prosecution, especially due to ‘techinicalities’ and thus do more harm against Malaysians.

In the wake of world wide terrorism, the stable and harmonious Malaysia is not spared.Little that is was known, six bombs were planted all along Jalan Telawi 3 in Bangsar at the ‘Millenium New Year’ celebrations, beginning 31 December 1999. The party-goers were lucky the bombs did not explode. Then, two of the 19 ‘September 11’ bombers where seen with one of the region most wanted man Yazid Sufaat here in Malaysia. The linkage of the much dreaded Al Qaedah has now have it networks alive and active here. The more recent was the last Thaupusam where bombs were planted to kill and cause a lot of pain on innocent non Muslims at the Batu Caves Complex, considered by these militants as ‘Jihad’. The other designated target is the Kwang Yin Temple in Penang.

Terrorism is war against the innocent people. Unlike a declared war where the target is the combatants, victims of acts of terrorism are innocent men, women, children and common old folks on the street. ISA is the perfect ‘preventive tool’ against these seriously sick people, who religiously believed that ‘suicide bombing’ is their ultimate ‘ticket of redemption from this world of infidelity and passage to heavens’. Many of most developed societies are envious of the ISA and a ‘preventive tool’ against the war of terrorism.

In the 1990s, ISA has been deployed against cessation advocate Sabahans. The most notable personality is Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, who was then the younger brother of Kadazan-Dusun Chief Minister Dato’ Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan. ISA was also the defense mechanism against the attempts to exploit the influx of illegal immigrant workers into Sabah from Indonesia and the Phillipines.

One of the most notable personality detained under ISA for ‘threat to national security’ is Bukhary Syed Tahir, who was the business partner of Scomi Precision Engineering Sdn. Bhd. In 2006, he was detained for activities of ‘sale of centrifuge’, which was believed to be parts in making nuclear devices for the Libyans.

The more recent personality arrested under the ISA is the regional most wanted terrorist, Mas Selamat Kastari. He was arrested in Johor after managing to escape from Singaporean detention and is the mastermind behind the Bali bombing.  The arrest of Mas Selamat held under ISA is the perfect demonstration of the Police’s ability in tracking down most wanted international criminal and the co-operation that they can generate with international intelligence agencies.

The arrest of 10 personalities linked to JI and Al Qaedah in mid July include Ayman Al Bakak, which is a most wanted man in Syria and Pakistan for terrorism-linked activities.

The Star report on the arrest:

Sunday July 18, 2010

Terrorist recruiting students held under ISA

KUALA LUMPUR: One of the country’s most wanted terror suspects who is allegedly involved in recruiting university students for Jemaah Islamiah (JI) has been detained under the Internal Security Act.

Mohamad Fadzullah Abbul Razak, who graduated from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) in Skudai, Johor, in 2005, was arrested by police officers from the Special Task Force (Operations and Counter Terrorism) Department on Thursday.

It is learnt that the 28-year-old engineer, whom the task force had been hunting since 2007, had just returned from Thailand when he was arrested by the officers at a house in Keramat here.

Sources said the man had allegedly been recruiting undergraduates from UTM as well as other institutions of higher learning into JI and had even sent several of them to participate in “holy wars.”

According to them, intelligence reports showed one of his recruits was a 17-year-old student.

The Task Force’s director, Commissioner Datuk Mohamed Fuzi Harun, confirmed the arrest but declined to elaborate.

Last January, his department arrested 10 students for alleged involvement in terrorism activities.

Investigations revealed that certain people had infiltrated institutions of higher learning and universities to recruit students to participate in “holy wars” in the region.

The students, most of them foreigners, have since been deported as investigations showed they were planning to blow up some non-Muslim places of worship in Selangor and in Penang.

Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan had said then police would continue to monitor the activities of certain individuals suspected of being involved in such activities.

He had also instructed his officers to meet with universities and institutions of higher learning to brief them on the latest incident where undergraduates had been targeted by certain terror groups.

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A similar device designed to explode along Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar on 'Millenium New Year'

The arrest of Fadlullah confirms the story about the preparation of the planned-but-failed Bangsar Bombing on 31December 1999. Six bombs were planted all along Jalan Telawi 3 the ‘Millenium New Year’ celebrations. The stroke of luck, the bombs did not explode. Otherwise the ‘Bangsar Bombing’ would have been far more devastating as compared to the ‘Bali Bombings’.

The arrest also proven that Malaysian terrorists committed armed robberies (in the most recent cases in Puchong and Klang) to fund their operations in places like Southern Thailand. This uncovered web of active terrorist operations internationally, which is a very worrying factor for the national security.

The present terrorist situation is history repeating itself. However, the difference is that as compared as during the war against communism 50-60 years ago, the modern and sophisticated communications enable the movement of information is to be very efficient and the physical movement and networking of the militants in the region and as far away as Afghanistan is very seamless.

The fact is that there is no law for someone to withdraw instructions to build a bomb from the internet or anything along the lines. For a group of people to meet up and plan to build a bomb is also not lawful. And yet the terrorism and the new age ‘war’ is all about ordinary people taking guerilla type war against civillians and the innocent.

ISA is the tool that made Malaysia able to preserve democracy. It was one of the most effective tool against the communism threat for forty years. It is still relevant in the new age of terrorism, which Malaysians are not spared from. 163 detention for terrorism linked activities is a proof that it is a very important preventive tool against crime of humanities.

Efforts against ISA by groupings such as GMI and Suaram would just weaken the defense of the realm, for the narrow politics of the minority. In essence, ISA is very much a necessary tool of the majority to preserve democracy.

*Updated Friday 20 September 2010 1430hrs

Published in: on August 18, 2010 at 18:44  Comments (34)