Wednesday, March 26, 2008

ISA - in search of adjudicators

Commented on yawningbread's article on the ISA (see link in the link area lah!)

One funny question our ISA brings up about us is:

ARE there no non-partisan civic leaders that we can turn to as impartial reviewers rather on this proposed 5-yr board of inquiry rather than day representatives of the government, executive, legislative or judicial?

At the end of the day - to excommunicate an individual from his own society (presuming ISA is primarily used on citizens rather than foreigners who will just be deported to their home country prison systems), greater society have had a say on whether the said individual is a THREAT to its continued well-being. Yes, the judiciary should be involved, or at least, someone to ensure that procedural propriety was carried out, but to for a representative of the current government to chair the inquiry encourages a pro-govt bias.

In that sense, a non-current ex-judiciary or ex-law practicioner would reduce any pro-current-government bias on the board.

If intelligence security is an issue, then, having people that society trust as upstanding and incorruptible to review an arrest would provide greater society with a re-assurance that the executive branch is not abusive of its wide powers, whilst reducing the opportunity for intelligence leaks.

But I do agree with anonymous1 - easier to arrest the insociable (terror, crime, whatnots) over other lawbreakings rather than some insubstantial allegation that they cannot prove.
(which is why Mr Chee and company keep getting arrested on minor laws of public peace etc, rather than given the ISA hammer to take him out as a political force).

If other democracies (or at least, accountable governments that DO get thrown out of office due to abuses of power) can live without an ISA, why does a tiny city-state require one to defend itself from itself? Is it fear that we could become the pawns in international geo-politik (and what implications that gives for our own leaders who can be influenced so readily!) or that we still face 'Konfrontasi'-style threats or a resurgence of social-evolution (previously known as communism)?

I stand on the abolitionists' side. ISA has more cons than pros in its ease for executive abuse. If we are to create a society of trust rather than fear, then ISA is a roadblock that needs to be removed.



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