I support ISA, I don’t support ISA…
This new controversy now has four members in the ring, Function 8, Maruah, the Catholic Church and the MHA. Apparently the Archbishop had sent two letters to Function 8 and Maruah in support of abolishing ISA sometime in June this year before the small rally in Hong Lim. Now the Archbishop’s letters, content not disclosed yet, is mentioned in the open by Alex Au after the former retracted his letter, and presumably the support for the cause. One side is saying that the Archbishop was pressured by MHA to withdraw. The Archbishop is saying that he feared his letters could be misused for the wrong reasons or causes.
Now we have a new dispute on top of abolishing the ISA. What is happening behind closed door that is leading to this controversy? I believe the truth would slowly creep out and there will be more red faces.
The main issue is the ISA. Is there a need for the ISA? I think so then and now. There are elements that can wreck havoc and threaten securities and safety of people and country. The question is how to deal with them and play by their rules instead of being constrained by the slow pace of the legal and policing systems? I think the ISA per se is not an issue. Abolishing it will see a new transformation, a new tool be invented to take its place and the problem will just recycle itself.
The main problem of the ISA is the fear and the perception of it being misused and abused for the wrong reasons, for the wrong purpose. The ISA is seen as a draconian and outdated tool of oppression by some quarters. Why does it acquire such a bad reputation? Why should it not be seen as a necessary and respectable tool for the govt to use for country and people?
The ISA is not the only govt instrument that can acquire such an infamous reputation. The other apparachiks of the govt like the CPIB, the IRA or even the Law Society, if not carefully managed, can also acquire equally offensive and evil reputation. So, is the abolishing of the ISA a solution? I don’t think so. It is how the tool is being applied, being misused that matters. And this boils down to the operators, the intent and the authority. If the authority is seen to be applying all the instruments of power fairly, justly, for the good of country and nation, if the operators act professionally, all the govt instruments will be highly respected and regarded.
It is not the ISA alone, look at the HDB, the MOE, MOM, all can be viewed with mistrust and disgust too. Should they all be abolished? This will bring things back to square one. Why is an organization seen as a bad organization and some people wanting it to be abolished and some people seeing it as an instrument of fear or of ill repute?