Friday, September 19, 2008

US concerned over Malaysian use of internal security act

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The government of US President George W. Bush views with "grave concern" Malaysia's use of its tough Internal Security Act (ISA) as a possible way to stifle dissent, the State Department said Thursday.

Washington worries about "the possibility" that the act, which allows indefinite detention without trial, "might be used again to detain opposition political figures," said spokesman Sean McCormack.

"The statement by a government figure that a leading member of the opposition had become 'a threat to the economy and national security' is extremely troubling," said McCormack, referring to warnings by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who on Thursday called for a no-confidence vote against Abdullah.

Last Friday Malaysian police arrested Teresa Kok of the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP), Malaysia's top blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, and a reporter with a Chinese-language newspaper under the security law, citing security concerns.

"The United States firmly believes that national security laws, such as the ISA, must not be used to curtail or inhibit the exercise of universal democratic liberties or the peaceful expression of political views," McCormack said.

"The detention of opposition leaders under the ISA would be viewed by the United States and the international community as a fundamental infringement of democratic rights and values," he added.

AFP via Yahoo! News - 1 hour, 49 minutes ago