Many people may be shocked by this question, or even consider this as a distasteful joke. But I am serious, and my answer is yes. Not limited to being arrested, the Prime Minister can even be put away permanently in a detention camp, if the modus operandi with which the Internal Security Act (ISA) has been used recently to detain opponents of Mahathirˇ¦s leadership is strictly adhered to in arresting the PM.

And what is this modus operandi that has been applied to Mahathirˇ¦s opponents? It is as follows:

1. Police arrest an opponent of Mahathirˇ¦s leadership under the ISA, on the ground that he threatens ˇ§national securityˇ¨, though no such evidence has been produced. The detainee is kept incommunicado to the outside world, including his lawyers and family members, ˇ§for security reasonsˇ¨ as claimed by the police.

2. The public protests this ISA arrest to the Minister of Home Affairs, whose portfolios include the police department. The Home Minister replies that he does not wish to interfere with what he calls a police decision to maintain law and order, and clarifies that under the ISA, the police has the authority to detain a person for 60 days for investigation.

3. A family member of the detainee then makes a habeas corpus application to the court to release the detainee. The ground of application is that the arrest is male fide, as the police have failed to produce any evidence of unlawful act committed by the detainee, and it has also inflicted unnecessary cruelty on the detainee by denying him access to his lawyers and family members.

4. During the hearing, the police refuse to submit details to substantiate their allegation of ˇ§threats to national securityˇ¨, on the ground that disclosure of such details will compromise ˇ§national securityˇ¨.

The Judge (as in the case of Augustine Paul) concurs with the police and rejects the habeas corpus application on the ground that under the ISA, the police are not obligated to give details to justify their arrest.

5. Prior to the expiration of the 60 day detention by the police, the Home Minister duly signs on a 2 year detention order, committing the detainee to a detention camp for the same period. The Home Minister does not give any evidence or details of the detaineeˇ¦s alleged wrong-doings.

Under the ISA, the Home Minister can renew this 2 year detention order for an

unlimited number of times.

Detention under the ISA is not subject to judicial review.

It will be seen that if the above modus operandi is followed strictly, not only an innocent ordinary citizen but also the Prime Minister can be put into a detention camp forever, that is, if the Home Minister and the Judge behave exactly as they have behaved against the recent political detainees. (Readers are reminded that a prime minister detained incommunicado looses the opportunity to exercise his authority or influence).

I am not suggesting a legal way to push the Prime Minister into a detention camp. But I do suggest the nonsensicality of the ISA law and the unconscionable judicial decision by judges such as Augustine Paul. The combination of nonsensically abusive laws and moral-less judges has given the Executive unbridled power to condemn an innocent citizen to unlimited torture and imprisonment. And this is what happened to the recent series of ISA detention on opponents of Mahathirˇ¦s leadership.

To the horror and indignation of the Nation, this inhuman ISA cruelty has now been unprecedentedly extended to university students opposed to the ruling power (one of them is the President of the Student Representative Council of the University of Malaya) on the pretext of looking for culprits in connection with the recent burning of a university hall. Based on the notorious record of the police in forcing false confessions from past ISA detainees, most prominently those in connection with the recent infamous trials of Anwar Ibrahim, these students who are detained incommunicado, are now at the mercy of the police, whose penchant to inflict physical and mental torture is by now legendary.

All the opposition political parties and NGOs in this Country have instantly demanded in unison the immediate release of these students or alternatively charge them in court. Even if this request is not acceded to immediately, the minimum the police should do, is to allow the detainees immediate access to their lawyers and family members. This is to allay fears of police abuse on these students, in view of the unfavourable police record and the Prime Ministerˇ¦s expressed vindictiveness towards these students.

It is bad enough to use the ISA to crush legitimate political opposition, but to extend that uncivilized cruelty on students, just because they are critical of the Prime Ministerˇ¨s leadership, is truly abhorrent and detestable. The Prime Minister may have been encouraged by the apparent ease with which he has got away with the recent abuse of ISA on his opponents, but it serves him well to be warned that he is now stretching the limit of tolerance of this Nation by descending to such despicable depth as to unlawfully victimize students in his ruthless quest to suppress legitimate political dissent.

Kim Quek

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