KUALA LUMPUR, April 3, 2009 (AFP) – Malaysia’s new Prime Minister Najib Razak announced the release of 13 people held under tough security laws and revoked a ban on two newspapers in his first act after taking office Friday.
Najib, who was sworn in as the country’s sixth prime minister, pledged in his first televised broadcast as PM that he would also review the tough Internal Security Act (ISA) which allows for indefinite detention without trial.
“I would like to announce that the government has decided with immediate effect to remove the temporary ban on two news publications, release 13 detainees from ISA detention, and conduct a comprehensive review of the Internal Security Act,” he said.
“These decisions are timely as we move to enhance the confidence of our citizens in those entrusted with maintaining peace, law and order,” he said.
Officials said the two papers were Suara Keadilan, run by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s Keadilan party, and Harakah, published by the Islamic party PAS, which had been banned for three months earlier this month after they reported on a political crisis in northern Perak state in February.
Home ministry officials could not be reached for comment.
Anwar had criticised Najib for the government’s ban on the papers and called for the release of all political detainees held under ISA.
Najib said he would also “provide strong leadership” to lift the country out of the economic crisis.
The home ministry said it was holding 46 people under the ISA in December, most of them members of militant groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah and Darul Islam.
The security law, which provides for a two-year detention period that can be renewed indefinitely, dates back partly to the British colonial era, when it was used against communist insurgents.
However, critics say it has been abused by the government to silence its opponents.
Copyright 2009 AFP
Source : AFP