Council slams Rais for invoking ISA in UTM's fire case
7:41pm Mon Mar 18th, 2002
The Bar Council today chided de facto Law Minister Dr Rais
Yatim for invoking the Internal Security Act on suspected
arsonists who torched University Teknologi Malaysia's Dewan
Sultan Iskandar in Skudai, Johor.
Council chairperson Mah Weng Kwai said the ISA was not meant
merely "to prevent chaos".
said the relevance of the controversial ISA has become "increasingly
difficult to justify" as its
original purpose to combat the communist insurgency has long
lack of similarity between the threat to national security
by communist insurgents and the alleged arsonists in respect
of the said UTM Dewan is abundantly clear," he said in
the press statement.
week, Rais, who is also the minister in the Prime Minister's
Department, said that if arson could be proven, then the matter
was not merely a case of arson but of sabotaging national
interests, destroying government property and smearing its
hall is often used for several important functions, including
the university's convocation
which was to be held last Saturday.
who said this after presenting the Bakti study grants to 25
students in UTM, said the ISA could be used against those
responsible for the sabotage as it is meant to ensure public
order and security.
caused by the fire, believed to have occurred between Thursday
night and Friday morning, is estimated at RM200,000.
to the Bar Council chairperson, the ISA cannot be invoked
for the purpose of carrying out police investigations.
said that such investigation should done before a decision
is made to charge the suspected arsonists.
added there were ample provisions under the Criminal Procedure
Code to enable the authorities to arrest, remand and investigate
laws provide the necessary safeguards for due process. If
the ISA is used to detain the suspected arsonists, they will
be denied their fundamental rights of access to legal counsel
and preventive detention without trial.
said Mah, is a "situation simply void of any justification".
called for the repeal of the controversial ISA as it was consistent
with judicial observations that abuses under the ISA must
be prevented or minimised.
said the 10,000-strong Bar Council regretted Rais' statement
which indicated that the government wanted to persist in resorting
to the use of the ISA in disregard of other available statutory