By Lim Sue Goan
Sin Chew Daily
Publication Date: 24-09-2008 HERE
Other than Umno's power transition plan and Anwar Ibrahim's plan to topple the govenrment, another current hot topic would be to amend or repeal the Internal Security Act (ISA), as well as to draw up a Race Relations Act.
The 8 March general elections brought a heavy blow to the turliong party and one of the positive changes is that many politicians and political parties have suddenly become more conscious. They are beginning to firmly opposed undemocratic laws, unlike the Bar Council which has been opposing the ISA alone for over 20 years.
ISA has been in existence since the British colonial era but some politicians only found recently that the act is undemocratic and it violates human rights. Meanwhile, there are still some who do not think there are any problem with the act but only the implementation method should be questioned.
Even more ironically, the government suddenly discovered that there's something amiss with our race relations after 51 years of independence. They are trying to draw up an act to stipulate what should not be said. Would race relations improve just by drawing up a new law?
In fact, the people's thinking and values are more important than an act. Even if an undemocratic act exists, people with modern thinking would not simply use or abuse the act.
Therefore, political leaders and officials at all levels should understand what is meant by universal values, particularly human rights, democracy and the concept of fairness. They must know that all detainees have the right to defence in court and no violence should be involved in any police investigation.
As long as government policy makers and administrators have the idea of fairness, naturally they will be fairer in setting up policies. This can avoid racial suspicion. Fair attitude is much better than a Race Relations Act.
Similarly, if politicians are open-minded and bear in mind that their responsibility is to act fairly, there would be no racial element in their words and deeds. No dispute would be triggered off then.
The Constitution of Malaysia has been amended for several times but most importantly, those who implement the laws should be open-minded in order to correctly and effectively enforce the law.
Inapropriate acts should be amended or repealed while outdated thinking must be corrected. It would be easier to amend inapropriate acts but it is difficult to correct human thought.