11 November 2009

Anti-terrorism and ISA

At today's round table discussion organised by the Foreign Ministry’s South-East Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT) in collaboration with the Australian High Commission in Malaysia, the Australian Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism, William Paterson, said , “Malaysia chooses to use the preventive detention approach under the ISA ... has it been effective? Without doubt, yes, it’s been very effective".

This is a very dangerous statement for Ambassador Paterson to have made, for even though he said every country had to come out with its own initiatives in dealing with terrorism, I am certain that some ignorant or twisted Malaysian politician will seize upon this endorsement to unravel whatever positive progress has been made to recognise that the ISA is an archaic, outdated, abused piece of legislation that stifles democracy in Malaysia.

Even the wording of the article by the Star, Aussie anti-terrorist expert backs ISA, may give the impression that the ISA was praised in its entirety, which it was not. It also smacks of hypocrisy for an Australian Ambassador to praise the ISA when Australia is so big on human rights, something the ISA completely violates. (Incidentally, Ambassador Paterson was awarded the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal in 2005) Or perhaps when the ends justify the means; when the threat of international terrorism is reduced for Australia; Australia would support whatever measures that were taken to achieve that measure of security, despite the collateral costs those measures may have incurred.

Certainaly no legislation like the ISA would ever be adopted in Australia.

It must have stung Australia when Indonesia used "human rights" as their basis for refusing to use force to make the Sri Lankan asylum seekers disembark.

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