Dr. Syed Husin published the book in 1996 while I bought it in June 1997. So what made me re-read a book I first finished reading more than 11 years ago? Well, a few days ago, I was reading a post in Michelle Yoon's blog I Am Malaysian, where she wrote about our current Prime Minister saying that the Internal Security Act being a `necessary law' and that, `we have never misused the ISA.'
Michelle's detest of this draconian law is obvious and I quote, `I may not be a human rights activist at the moment. But I don’t relent when it comes to the ISA.
No, I do not have any experience of the inside, nor the outside of Kamunting Detention Camp. I don’t personally know any of the ISA detainees. I don’t even know anyone who used to be detained under the ISA. In fact, I’ve never even been close to anything related to the ISA.
But if something is wrong, I will not stop.
The ISA is wrong. I will not stop. It is the ISA that has to be stopped.'Read the whole of Michelle's post at this link.
In my comment to her post, I suggested that she try reading Syed Husin's book so that she can get a viewpoint of someone who has spent time in Kamunting as an ISA detainee. She replied that it would a bit difficult to find a Malay book in New Zealand but she'll keep it in mind. Well Michelle, if you are really interested, let me know your mail address and I will send a copy over.
Anyway, I thought is was good for me to re-read the book. The last book that I finished was a fiction novel, so a book about a real personal event was a welcome change.
As some of you may know, Dr. Syed Husin Ali is presently the Deputy President of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR). But prior to that, he was the President of Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM) which in turn, was originally known as Parti Sosialis Rakyat Malaysia (PSRM). Syed Husin's book tells the story of his detention under the ISA in December1974 until his release almost six years later in September 1980.
Syed Husin Ali was picked up by police at his home in Kuala Lumpur at 2.00 am on the morning of 7 December 1974, suspected of being one of the key instigators of the student demonstrations in support of the poor farmers of Baling in Kedah. He narrates the story of how he was first detained in the filthy police lock-up at Jalan Bandar, the subsequent interrogations and the transfer to Kamunting Camp in Perak. After about 20 months at Kamunting, he was mysteriously transported back to a secret detention centre in Kuala Lumpur where he was subjected to further abuse, torture and repetitive interrogation.
I do not think it necessary for me to describe the details of the treatment Syed Husin received under these interrogation sessions. Suffice to say that his interrogators were mean and cruel. This may have happened more than 20 years ago but really, it's not hard to believe that the same thing can take place today.
At the end of his book, the author attached a copy of the Detention Order issued by the Chief Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs under Section 11(2)(b) of the Internal Security Act, 1960. It lists out six (6) Allegations of Fact to support the grounds the order was made. I'm reproducing Allegation no.4 for you to read and ponder :
4. On 29 Jun 74, speaking at a PSRM mass rally at Kampong Masjid. Sg. Selisik, Selangor, you strongly condemned the Government for the `arbitrary arrest and detention' of PSRM members. You also alleged that there were rampant corrupt practices amongst Ministers whose activities were never investigated into. Your malicious allegation was obviously designed to arouse public indignation against the Government.
Wow... arousing public indignation of the Government by complaining about corrupt practices by Ministers is something that can get you detained without trial. Unbelievable!
In the Foreword to his book, Syed Husin mentions that he has forgiven all. But what he sincerely hopes for is that the current leaders who had previously promised to review this piece of legislation, to actually do so. It is time for the government to totally repeal this act.
As I said, Syed Husin wrote the book in 1996. We are in 2008 now and ISA is still with us.
And today, I read in Rocky's Bru the story of the daughter of an ISA detainee who died without seeing her father for the last time. Do the people in power have no compassion at all? I pray to Allah for the soul of Aina Mardiah Shahrial.