Malaysia is going to abolish ISA, isn’t it time for Singapore to do so?
I don’t think so.
MHA says no because Malaysian and Singapore societies are have gone different paths. That’s just a partial reason.
Netizens, on the other hand, claim LKY is the reason, that it will never be abolished till he’s in his grave.
But that’s not it either.
Does anyone think Najib decided to abolish ISA just because he wanted to make the world a better place? Is it because Najib believes in human rights?
I didn’t think that either.
Najib is abolishing the ISA because it is the politically expedient thing for him to do. In other words, he’s either been forced into it, or he’s calculated that abolishing ISA will give the moral high ground over Anwar and friends.
So it’s a self serving move by Najib.
Back to Singapore.
What upside does abolishing ISA have for PAP?
MHA is right. Singapore and Malaysian society are now very different, even though we were once the same country.
Malaysians are much braver politically. They express their displeasure at the ruling party at the polls without qualm. In the last election, they even gave the opposition more than 1/3 of the seats, breaking BN’s 2/3rd majority for the first time in history.
Malaysians know how to send a message to their politicians at the polls.
When Malaysians want something badly enough, they do not just write letters to the press. They really go all out. Malaysians are brave enough to protest in the streets when they sense injustice, even with ISA hanging over them.
Bersih 2.0 was an eye-opener for BN. It did not matter that no permit was given for the assembly, it did not matter that the police tried to seal off KL, it did not matter that the police threatened the protesters and organisers with ISA.
And before Bersih 2.0, there were numerous other protests too, eg by Indians who felt their religious rights had been violated.
Faced with Malaysians’ outrage at injustices and the possibility of even greater setbacks at the next polls, Najib thus made his decision to abolish ISA, not because he wants to, but because he HAD to.
Singapore society is very different.
The PAP does not face such a hostile population. ISA is just not a hot issue in the electorate’s minds. There is no mass public sympathy for ex-ISA detainees– witness the lack of support for Teoh Soh Lung in the 2011 elections, for instance.
So why would PAP abolish ISA just because some critics say so? Voters don’t care too much about it, and there’s no upside to be gained by abolishing it. They have to waste time drafting a new law to replace ISA, and not a single rabid SDP supporter is going to vote PAP just because ISA is abolished.
Upside to PAP = NIL.
So there is no earthly reason why PAP should abolish ISA, not until Singaporeans want it badly enough, not until Singaporeans are willing to send the right signals to the PAP at the ballot box.