(Used by permission)
KUALA LUMPUR: The Bar Council yesterday set up a special legal committee to assist ISA detainees should there be any requests.
The 25–member committee will be led by Rajpal Singh.
"This committee is set up to respond immediately if there are any requests for help (from ISA detainees)," Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said yesterday.
Also present were past presidents Yeo Yang Poh, Datuk Kuthubul Zaman Bukhari, Sulaiman Abdullah and Hendon Mohamed.
Ambiga said the Bar had also decided to hold an emergency general meeting on Saturday at Wisma MCA on the ISA and the recent detentions.
Ambiga said the Bar was left in "utter disbelief" over the Friday detentions of blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Sin Chew Daily journalist Tan Hoon Cheng and Seputeh MP Teresa Kok.
She stressed that there were sufficient provisions in the Penal and Criminal Procedure Codes that allow for police investigations on the cases related to the three detentions.
Kuthubul said the use of the ISA was unjustified as there were legal avenues for the government to address the issues at hand.
Yeo stressed that the use of the ISA was not a healthy development and would only harm efforts and reverse any progress achieved towards nation building.
Hendon questioned the government's rationale for continuing to employ the ISA, which she claimed was "kept for convenience".
"It is time for the government to seriously consider allowing people to speak out. Otherwise, we will only end up degenerating," she said.
Sulaiman likened the ISA to a nuclear weapon, saying that the act must only be used in extreme cases.
"The Bar does not agree with the ISA, but if the government insists on using it, then only use it in extreme cases. The Bar does not see the situation to be that extreme that it warrants the use of this nuclear weapon (in the three arrests)."
Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Society (Hakam) called for all parties to respect the current political climate, parliamentary democratic procedures and the rule of law.
Hakam executive councillor Ramdas Tikamdas said the basis of a government's legitimacy was the people's perception of justice and fairness, particularly in the application of the law.
"When these laws are seen to be abused and misused for the political fortunes or the security of a few, then perception of illegitimacy will permeate."