Two prominent human rights advocates, Mr M Ravi and Ms Teo Soh Lung, in speaking to Australian media, have lobbied the Aussie Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to raise the issue of arbitrary detention without trial with his Singaporean counterpart. Mr Turnbull met Mr Lee Hsien Loong in Vientiane, Laos, on Tuesday (6 Sep) for the 29th ASEAN Summit.
They are concerned about the detention of Singaporean Zulfikar bin Mohamad Shariff under the Internal Security Act (ISA). The Ministry of Home Affairs said in late July that it had detained Zulfikar under ISA for embarking on a ‘path of radicalism’. Zulfikar holds dual citizenship, and is also a citizen of Australia. Singapore does not recognise dual citizenships. His family has refused that Zulfikar is a an extremist and contend that his views of extremist Islamic organisations has changed since 2015.
Speaking to the Australian Associated Press on 6 Sep, Mr M Ravi said that the Aussie government should be concerned that one of its citizens if being “arbitrarily detained without trial’, especially since ‘Mr Zulfikar’s family has released a statement with certain pertinent evidence to rebut the Singapore government’s version that he is a security threat.”
In emphasising that Zulfikar should be given the opportunity to defend himself in open court, Mr Ravi added that the “ISA’s provisions violate fundamental international human rights standards, including prohibitions on arbitrary detention and guarantees of the right to due process and the right to a prompt and impartial trial.”
Ms Teo Soh Lung who was detained twice on allegations of being a Marxist Conspiracist under ISA also urged Mr Turnbull to raise the issue with Mr Lee, highlighting that there are at least 23 persons being detained under ISA – some since the year 2000.
“Why all these people, some since 2000 have not been released. What are their crimes? What evidence have they (Singapore) got against them? Were any bombs or firearms found on them when they were arrested? What rehabilitation are they undergoing now?”