MALAYSIA: ISA: Arbitrary Detention 


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-10-2003-01
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention,

Dear Friends


The International Security Act (ISA), that was enacted in the 1960s, remains frequently used to arrest, and indefinitely detain without trial, human rights and opposition campaigners.

The ISA reportedly allows the authorities to arbitrarily arrest, detain incommunicado and interrogate activists, without granting them access to legal counsel or family visits for up 60 days, and without conducting a trial for a period of up to two years. This period is, however, renewable by the Minister for Home Affairs, meaning that the person can effectively be detained indefinitely without a trial. In April 2003, the National Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) recommended that the Malaysian government abolished the ISA. In June 2003, the Minister for Home Affairs will decide whether to release six political prisoners, or to extend the detention for another two-year period.

Tien CHUA and Dr Badrulamin BAHROM have been detained incommunicado at the Kamunting Detention Camp and have suffered, with other political prisoners, degrading and brutal treatment, including, for Tien CHUA, being placed in solitary confinement, and paraded naked outside his dormitory.

The two-year detention without trial of the six “Reformasi” political prisoners that are being detained under the ISA will expire in June 2003. All six prisoners were detained in April 2001, prior to a mass demonstration in support of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who was convicted in April 2000. The six political prisoners are:

    • Tian Chua, a labour and human rights activist and Vice President of the National Justice Party.


    • Hishamudding Rais, a film director and a reform movement activist,


    • Dr. Badrulamin Bahrom, Central Committee member of National Justice Party,


    • Mohd Ezam Mohd Noor, Youth Chief of the National Justice Party,


    • Saari Sungib, Reform Movement activist, and


    • Lokman Adam, Youth Leader of the National Justice Party.


The Malaysian government has failed to produce any evidence to support the claim made two years ago that these six political prisoners had attempted to overthrow the government through militant means. The prisoners continue to be held in Kamunting Detention Camp, deprived of their right to defend themselves in court. On 06 September 2002, the Federal Court of Malaysia ruled that the detention of these prisoners was mala fide (in bad faith). The ISA advisory board adopted the same opinion, recommending that the prisoners be released.

The OMCT Case MYS 110401.12, Ill-treatment/Arbitrary detention/Fair Trial, argues for the immediate release of these prisoners. The International Secretariat of OMCT is gravely concerned about the brutal and degrading treatment of the political prisoners at Kamunting Detention Camp. OMCT calls on the Malaysian Government to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of the detainees at all time. OMCT is concerned that the detention without trial of the six political prisoners listed above may be extended, and that events at the camp may be used as an excuse to renew the detention order. OMCT calls for their immediate release. OMCT calls on the Malaysian government to abolish the ISA in accordance with the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission.


Please write to the authorities in Malaysia urging them to:

1 take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of the six “Reformasi” activists being detained under the ISA;

2 order their immediate release in the absence of valid legal charges, or, if such charges exist, bring them before an impartial and competent tribunal and guarantee their procedural rights at all times;

3 ensure that their detention period is not extended by another two years;

4 immediately abolish the ISA;

5 guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards.

Send a clear message that human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Those responsible, including those in uniform who commit these crimes, should be found and brought to justice.


1 Dato’ Seri Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad,

Prime Minister’s Office,

Federal Government Administration Center,

62502 Putrajaya,


Fax: +603 8888 3444,


2 Dato Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi,

Minister of Home Affairs & Deputy

Prime Minister,

Ministry of Home Affairs (Menteri Dalam Negeri),


13, Blok D1,

Parcel D,

Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan, 65202 Putrajaya,



Fax: + 603 8886 8014,


3 Chairman, Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM), Ybhg. Tan Sri Musa

Hitam Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia,

29th Floor, Menara Tun


Jalan Raja Laut, 50350 Kuala Lumpur,


Fax: + 60 3

2612 5620,


Please also write to the embassies of Malaysia in your respective country.

Geneva, May 12th, 2003

Kindly inform OMCT of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply:

Organisation Mondiale Contre la Torture (OMCT)

World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

Organización Mundial Contra la Tortura (OMCT)

8 rue du Vieux-Billard

Case postale 21

CH-1211 Geneve 8


Tel: 0041 22 809 49 39

Fax : 0041 22 809 49 29

E-mail :

Thank you.


AHRC Urgent Appeals Programme

Asian Human Rights Commission

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Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-10-2003-01
Countries : Malaysia,
Issues : Arbitrary arrest & detention,