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Updated: November 24, 1987 05:00 PM GMT
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Eleven of 106 Malaysians detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) since Oct. 27 were released unconditionally Nov. 20, after police said they no longer posed "a threat to national security."

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who heads the United Malay National Organization (UMNO), had called the arrests preventive, citing increasing tension in West Malaysia in recent months due to racial issues.

The announcement by Deputy Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Jaffar Abdul of the first group released left 95 people still detained.

Those released were Chan Kit Chee, Ngoi Thian Woh, Ahmad Sebi, Lai Thean Lo, Loh Foh Lai, Mohammed Ali Hanafiah bin Ismail, Tan Bee Hwa, Wong Meng, Wong Ah Wan, Chin Poh Yaw and Haji Ghulam Hassan (Haji Muda).

Chan is Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) vice president and a member of the 13-party government coalition, Ahmad Sebi managing director of Kuala Lumpur´s Television 3, Lai a businessman and Loh a rubber tapper.

-- Those still detained include La Salle Brother Anthony Rogers, who was arrested at the archbishop´s house Oct. 28 in the second largest wave of arrests using the ISA since 117 were arrested after race riots in 1969.

Brother Rogers was visited in November by his parents, brother and sister and La Salle Brother Matthew Liew. They said he appeared to be well-treated and was confident of being released.

Bishops attending the Consultation of Southeast Asian Bishops on dialogue between Church and society, in Thailand Nov. 9-12, wrote Mahathir the following letter saying they were "deeply concerned" about detentions using the ISA:

"We are particularly concerned about the detention of Brother Anthony Rogers, who is executive secretary for non-formal education in the Office for Human Development of the Federation of Asian Bishops´ Conferences (FABC) in Manila.

"We know, as an FABC worker, Brother Anthony Rogers has never done or said anything that would create ethnic or religious tension or cause a threat to national security, which are the reasons given by the authorities for the detentions as reported in the media.

"On the contrary, he has always worked conscientiously in promoting greater inter-ethnic and interreligious harmony especially among the youth in Malaysia.

"We also believe that all those who sincerely express their opinion on social issues affecting the nation are honestly trying to bring about greater justice, ethnic and religious harmony in Malaysia, and are exercising their rights and duties as loyal citizens of king and country.

"We respectfully urge the government to release all the detainees immediately, or bring them to open court," the letter said.

It was signed by Archbishops Paul Hisao Yasuda of Osaka, Japan and Orlando Quevedo of Nueva Segovia, Philippines; and Bishop Bunluen Mansap of Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand.

The other signers were Bishops Joachim Rozario of Chittagong, Bangladesh; Joseph Vianney Fernando of Kandy, Sri Lanka; Francisco Claver, the Philippines; and Lawrence Thienchai Samanchit of Chanthabury, Thailand.

-- Detainees Chandra Muzaffar and Lim Chin Chin filed an application in Kuala Lumpur High Court Nov. 6 asking to be released. An application for a writ of habeas corpus was filed by their lawyer.

Four other detainees, Lim Fong Seng, Doctor Tuang Pik King, Doctor Kua Kia Soong and Doctor Mohamed Nasir bin Hashim filed similar applications.

All six were scheduled to be heard in the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

-- Archbishop Anthony Soter Fernandez of Kuala Lumpur said Nov. 9 he was perturbed at continuing arrests. He earlier praised moves to still racial and religious tensions in the country -- but criticized use of the ISA.

A pastoral letter by Bishops James Chan of Melaka-Johor, Antony Selvanayagam of Penang and Archbishop Fernandez read in all peninsular churches Nov. 1 had also asked that detainees be released or tried in open court.

The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM), chaired by Bishop Selvanayagam, also criticized government actions against the press.

"CFM views with concern the revocation by the authorities of the licences of certain newspapers," it said. "The public has thereby been deprived of moderate and wider views on national issues.

"Denying or restricting access to objective news would only lead to the spread of rumors and give further grounds for suspicion among the people..."

"We are saddened that in this our 30th year of independence, ethnic tension has again risen to dangerous levels (and) all groups concerned should seek to transcend racial lines and act and speak on behalf of all Malaysians...

"CFM requests the government to seriously reconsider the setting up of an appropriate representative body to enable the nation to achieve genuine reconciliatiion and integration."

Archbishop Fernandez; Right Reverend E. B. Muthusami, Council of Churches Malaysia president; and David Boler, National Evangelical Christian Fellowship chairman, also signed the statement.

-- The Bar Council and ISA Detainees Support Group, which includes 11 groups, also urged the government to release detainees or put them on trial in court.

-- Support also came from elsewhere in Asia.

Bishop Aloysius Nobuo Soma of Nagoya, Japanese Catholic Council for Justice and Peace president, in a letter to Mahathir Nov. 10, asked for the release of all detainees held without trial.

"We view with utmost concern the sudden and quite arbitrary arrest of over a hundred people in your esteemed country, many of whom are respected citizens who happen to be oppositionists of certain policies," Bishop Soma wrote.

"We also are concerned with the sudden closure of three newspapers, which indicates a dictatorial hand preventing the dissemination of truth.

"In the name of human rights and justice, we strongly request the immediate release of those recently arrested under the so-called Internal Security Act without valid warrants attested to by legally mandated courts."

The ISA law empowers police to detain a person for up to 60 days without a detention order, but the detention can be extended with permission of the Home Affairs minister, a portfolio held by Mahathir.

-- Under a similar ISA, 22 people, including 10 Catholic Church workers, were arrested in Singapore in May-June. Six remain detained nearly six months later.


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