Home News SG Economy The detention of a known religious fanatic extremist is no justification for...

The detention of a known religious fanatic extremist is no justification for ISA

Author

Date

Category

- Advertisement -

By: Respect Singapore

In the wake of the arrest of Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff, many have said that his arrest under the ISA justifies the ISA.

Now, I believe there is value in retaining the ISA, as long as there are sufficient safeguards to prevent its abuse (the current safeguards are not entirely satisfactory, but that’s another story). And I support firm and decisive action being taken in this case.

But we have to avoid making the knee-jerk, lazy conclusion that whenever a religious fanatic/terrorist sympathizer is arrested, it automatically means that the ISA is justified.

- Advertisement -

The ISA is a draconian law. It gives our government sweeping, discretionary powers to arrest and detain people for an effectively indefinite period of time without the possibility of judicial review. It is a nuclear weapon that should only be used in dire circumstances, where there is a clear, present and urgent danger that our national interests would be seriously harmed, but there is insufficient basis or time to build and process an otherwise proper legal charge.

In Zulfikar’s case, he made many brazen Facebook postings on ISIS, radicalized people, and allegedly admitted that he aimed to overthrow the Singapore government by establishing an Islamic state in Singapore. These could all arguably be sufficient to support various charges under the Penal Code. For example, s121 (attempting to wage war or abetting the waging of war against the government), s121B (imagining, devising or intending the overawing of the government by criminal force) and s298A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion or race and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony). And, unlike the ISA, processes under the Penal Code would have better due process and accountability.

Also, Zulfikar allegedly became radicalized as early as 2001, and set up an online group Al-Makhazin and made postings from 2013. The government could clarify why it sees the urgency to act now under the ISA, when it didn’t see the urgency all those years before. Especially since he made several return trips to Singapore between 2002 and 2014.

Furthermore, the case against Zulfikar appears to be clear enough with his explicit, brazen online postings. The government could clarify whether the case hinges on any other information, intelligence or surveillance that is sensitive, which if disclosed in normal court proceedings could undermine future policing efforts. Even if such sensitivity exists, the government could clarify why the risks associated with disclosure cannot be addressed by say closed (as opposed to open) court proceedings.

- Advertisement -

We live in a dangerous world. And desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures. I do not defend Zulfikar. But we should continue to be circumspect about the use of our most lethal legal weapon. And we can start off by not assuming that its existence is always justified by its use.


Republished from Respect Singapore’s FB.Follow us on Social Media

Send in your scoops to news@theindependent.sg 

No tags for this post.
- Advertisement -

Covid-19: Did the government over-promise on vaccines and vaccination?

One would think it is a no-brainer now that the much-awaited much touted life-saving vaccines are available to combat Covid-19, everyone would rush to get their jabs. Before the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, among others, came on stream, the world held...

Calvin Cheng: We have very little. We are a tiny city-state. Our existence depends on us being open.

Singapore — Former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Calvin Cheng has taken to Facebook to speak about vaccinations and exiting Covid-19 restrictions in Singapore. He starts by saying that having an approved vaccine is better than not having a vaccine at all....

Lim Tean questions if Singapore’s foreign worker population will be larger than local labour force

Singapore — Lawyer and opposition leader Lim Tean posed a question on Facebook regarding the population of foreign workers in Singapore. Mr Lim put up a post with a short caption, "Will The Number Of Foreign Workers Soon Surpass Singaporean Workers?" In his...
Follow us on Social Media

Send in your scoops to news@theindependent.sg 

No tags for this post.
Theindependent