By: Molly Meek
I was really hoping that this clarification regarding my stand on Zulfikar Shariff’s arrest would not be necessary, but it seems that it might be after all. Adapted from comments made in another post:
Let me make it clear that I’m NOT defending or in any way condoning what Zulfikar Shariff has done (not that I can even know for sure all that he has allegedly done at this point). Neither am I saying that his family’s so-called rebuttals are valid. Nothing in the comments I have made so far is an attempt to defend Shariff or his actions.
Objecting to what he has said or done, however, does not mean that one has to approve of every way in which his arrest has been represented by the media. (This should be obvious, I hope.) I may object to his actions, but still disapprove of the way in which the case has been reported, e.g. in claiming that allegations are facts or presenting someone who campaigns for students to be allowed to wear the tudung as necessary having a parochial worldview.
I’m personally not supportive of the existence of the ISA, and one cannot (should not?) be selectively in favor of such a draconian law that allows people to be detained without trial. If you support the existence of such a law, it’s fine for you that you also support Zulfikar Shariff’s arrest under the ISA by the ISD. However, as a matter of principle, I’m not supportive of the ISA and how it allows people to be arrested without trial. Thus, even if I think he should be dealt with by the law, I would advocate the implementation of laws that criminalize his activities and call for him to be arrested and put on trial instead.
An issue is never one-sided. Just because one thinks that Shariff has done something questionable and objectionable, it doesn’t mean that one cannot also object to the mechanism by which he was arrested or to any indirect attempt by the media to justify the existence of the ISA/ISD. I’m actually disturbed by how the issue is presented by the media in a way that potentially marginalizes legitimate voices (as in the case when people asking for students to be allowed to wear the tudung) or to make allegations of crime that have not been proven in court seem right. I’m not even saying that the ISD’s arrest is baseless. I do wish, however, that people arrested for activities that threaten national security would be put on trial simply because of the ISA’s potential to be abused by a government.
An objection to the ISA is certainly not an endorsement of terrorists who may have been arrested under the ISA. Neither should the existence of the ISA and the ISD in the current forms seem justified simply because a particular arrest by the ISD under the ISA is relatively uncontroversial.