THE NATIONAL SOLIDARITY PARTY
STATEMENT ON THE INTERNAL SECURITY ACT, CAP. 143 OF SINGAPORE
SUMMARY:Powers of preventive detention may be given to the Executive but only to pre-emptand disrupt terrorist activities and subject to safeguards preventing misuse of suchpowers. The Internal Security Act, Cap. 143(ISA) does not contain the necessarysafeguards. It should be abolished and replaced by terrorism-specific legislation.
1. The ISA gives the Minister for Home Affairs power to arrest and preventively detain anindividual without warrant or trial for up to two years at a time “with a view topreventing that person from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security ofSingapore or any part thereof or to the maintenance of public order or essentialservices therein, it is necessary to do so”.
2. NSP accepts that it is necessary for the Minister to have preventive detention powersso as to be able to pre-empt and disrupt terrorist activities in a situation where there isnot yet enough evidence to charge and convict such an individual under existingcriminal laws.3. That said, Singapore being a functioning democracy, the internal security legislationwhich confers the Minister with preventive detention powers mustcontain safeguardsensuring that:(a) preventive detention powers cannot be used by theexecutive to serve its ownpolitical or other aims;(b) internal security legislation is only used as a last resort, when there are noother avenues under existing criminal laws; and(c) there is an appropriate balance between the needs of the state and the civilrights of the individual.4. However, the ISA fails to contain such necessary safeguards. Two particular failingsof the ISA are:
(1) No maximum period of detention
(a) ISA fails to provide for any maximum period of detention. With no ceiling
on the maximum period of detention, there is no limit to the number of
times the 2-year detention orders under ISA can be renewed.(b) In fact, continual renewal of the 2-year detention orders under ISA hashappened with embarrassing frequency in the past, which is how we havehad such long-serving detainees as Chia ThyePoh (detained for 23 years),
Dr Lim Hock Siew (detained for 19 years) and Dr PohSoo Kai (detained for11 years and 6 years on another occasion) – none of whom were tried norconvicted of any crime.(c) Indefinite detention without trial is unacceptable. Provisions for strict
limitations on the maximum duration of detention must be enacted.
(2) Exclusion of Judicial Review
Section 8(1) of the ISA.