Ahad, 14 September 2008

Zahid: Blame the detainees

The Star, Sunday September 14, 2008

KOTA BARU: Those detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) have themselves to blame because they chose to ignore racial and religious sensitivities of the country, said an ex-detainee.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said those detained on Friday had ignored past warnings and history when they chose to propagate disharmony in the society.

The former detainee, who now defends the Act in the context of a greater good, said he realised the benefits of the Act which allows detention without trial for a stipulated period.

He also lambasted those who wanted to use religious principles in justifying whether the ISA was Islamic or not, adding they must differentiate between criminal, civil and syariah laws.

Recounting his detention, he said he was detained for 10 days during the height of the reformasi movement in 1998.

He said he was questioned several times daily and kept inside a cell.

He assured the families of those detained now that the safety of their loved ones was of utmost priority of the Government.

“Those detained are not treated like criminals. They would be given adequate food and rest,” he said yesterday after handing out aid from Tabung Haji to the needy in conjunction with Ramadan.

“It is just that they need to be questioned to ascertain the motives behind alleged actions which undermine security.”

Asked if detainees have access to television, Zahid said such privileges would usually be extended to those detained for two years or more.

There was no abuse of power by either the police or Government, he said.

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