|Law Minister Zaid ‘tenders resignation’|
|Fauwaz Abdul Aziz & Beh Lih Yi | Sep 15, 08 2:17pm|
|De facto Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim has tendered his resignation over the government’s use of the Internal Security Act, which allows detention without trial, against three individuals last week.
According to a reliable source, Zaid’s resignation letter was delivered to the Prime Minister’s Office at around 2pm today.
Soon after, Zaid had a one-hour meeting with Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at his official residence this afternoon. He left without talking to journalists at about 5pm.
However, he is expected to call a press conference tomorrow morning.
Zaid has expressed his disagreement with last Friday’s ISA dragnet where DAP parliamentarian and Selangor senior exco Teresa Kok, controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin and Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng were held for allegedly being a threat to national security.
Zaid had earlier said that he would try to meet Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi some time this week to discuss the matter.
Malaysiakini was informed that Zaid did not meet with his boss before the letter was submitted to the PM’s office in Putrajaya this afternoon.
Yesterday, Zaid told Malaysiakini that the detainees should be charged in court.”We have a government that commits to laws and reforms, we can’t be using old-style politics or resort to creating fear. We have laws and they (the detainees) should be charged in court.”
“If my position is untenable, I will leave,” he said.
Zaid argued that the ISA should only be used to curb terrorism, which was the reason why it was first enacted in 1960.
“The problem with the ISA now is that it is used against certain people, it is a very unjust law,” he added.
Zaid also felt “very sad that people like Teresa, whom I know personally, can be seen as a threat.”
“I can’t see how a journalist doing her duty, or even Raja Petra, can be seen as a national threat. If their statements upset certain people, let the police investigate,” he said.
Zaid added that he was against the government using such a “strong-arm tactic” against any individuals.
Zaid, who is the former Kota Baru MP, was made a senator and named as minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of legal affairs during the cabinet reshuffle by premier Abdullah in March.
His appointment was lauded by many quarters as it was seen as a gesture by the prime minister to put in place judicial reforms.
Zaid lamented, however, that the latest ISA arrests had dealt a blow to his six-month-long task of trying to regenerate the judiciary.
The minister also conceded that his views on certain matters do not go down well with his cabinet colleagues.
“I don’t want to make it difficult for him (Abdullah). If my views are inconsistent or unsuitable (to that of the cabinet’s), I can leave the government.
“It (the crackdown) is a setback (on my work). The government wanted to change certain things, otherwise they don’t need me (to be in the cabinet),” he said.
A lawyer by training, Zaid was chairperson and senior partner in Zaid Ibrahim and Co – the largest law firm in the country – before he was appointed senator.
Upon his appointment as minister, Zaid had resigned from his position in the law firm and was replaced by Dr Nik Norzrul Thani.
It is not known whether Zaid, who established the company in 1987, will return to full-time practice.
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