Internal Security Act (Singapore)

Internal Security Act (Singapore)

The Internal Security Act (ISA) of Singapore [Singapore Statute|title=Internal Security Act|c
] confers on the government the right to arrest and detain individuals without trial in certain defined circumstances. The legislation originated in the wake of World War II, when a number of countries around the world introduced legislation that severely curtailed the rights of known or suspected communists.

The most notable ISA case was the Operation Coldstore in 1963 which led to the arrest of some 100 left-wing politicians and trade unionists, including members of the opposition party Barisan Sosialis who were opposing Singapore's merger with Malaysia. While the ISA has not been invoked in recent years against political opponents, the continued existence of ISA is perceived as restricting political opposition and criticism of the government. [Singapore: U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2005 [] ]


British colonial Malaya introduced a set of 'Emergency Regulations' in 1948 during the Malayan Emergency in response to a communist uprising. The regulations allowed the police to arrest anybody suspected of having acted "or being likely to act" in a way that would threaten security without evidence or warrant, hold them incommunicado for investigation and detaining them indefinitely without the detainee ever being charged with a crime or tried in a court of law.

In 1960, three years after Malaya's independence, the Emergency was declared over. However, the Malayan (now Malaysian) Internal Security Act [No. 18 of 1960.] was passed in its place with much of the same powers. During parliamentary debates, Malayan Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman stated that the ISA would only be applied against only the remaining Communist insurgents.

On its separation from Malaysia in 1965, Singapore retained the ISA.

Instances of the application of the ISA

* 1963Operation Coldstore, a joint Malaysian-Singaporean operation to arrest 117 opposition party and labor union leaders, some of whom were detained for up to 17 years.
* 1966Chia Thye Poh, a member of the Barisan Sosialis, was detained without trial for 32 years under the ISA. He spent the last nine years under forms of house arrest and civil rights restrictions, including confinement on the island of Sentosa.
* 1987 – In a security operation known as Operation Spectrum, 22 Roman Catholic church and social activists and professionals were detained under the ISA. They were accused of being members of a dangerous Marxist conspiracy bent on subverting the government by force and replacing it with a Marxist state.
* December 2001 – Fifteen alleged members of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) militant group were arrested for involvement in the Singapore embassies attack plot. [cite book|title=The Jemaah Islamiyah Arrests and the Threat of Terrorism : White Paper (Cmd. 2 of 2003)|publisher=Ministry of Home Affairs|date=2003|location=Singapore|id=ISBN 9810481640The white paper is available on-line from the website of the [ Ministry of Home Affairs] .]
* August–September 2002 – Another 21 alleged members of JI were arrested.Fact|date=March 2008


The author of the ISA, Reginald Hugh Hickling, a British lawyer, author and professor, said in 1989:

I could not imagine then that the time would come when the power of detention, carefully and deliberately interlocked with Article 149 of the Constitution, would be used against political opponents, welfare workers and others dedicated to nonviolent, peaceful activities. [" [ Author of Malaysia's Notorious Internal Security Act Died in Britain – Report] ", "International Herald Tribune" (28 February 2007).]


ee also

*Chng Suan Tze v. Minister of Home Affairs
*Internal Security Act (Malaysia)
*Law of Singapore

External links

* [ Official website of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore]

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