The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has reiterated its call for the government to amend the Internal Security Act (ISA) before the next general election. Otherwise it would have “no reason to remain” in Barisan Nasional.
PPP supreme council which held an emergency meeting on Thursday voiced its full support for party president Datuk M. Kayveas.
The deputy president Datuk Lee Heng who chaired the meeting said Kayveas had urged the government to amend the ISA following calls from the party’s Wanita and Youth wings recently to abolish the act altogether.
“The president’s response to that was to meet half way that is to ask for an amendment. If there is not even an amendment, then PPP would have no reason to remain in Barisan,” he said at a press conference.
Kayveas was not present at the emergency meeting as he was overseas.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister and Barisan Nasional chairman Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he had no plans to amend the ISA and that PPP was free to leave Barisan if it wanted to.
Earlier, Kayveas had called on the government to amend the ISA or PPP would pull out of Barisan.
Lee Heng said PPP’s stance was very clear that the government should amend the ISA to prevent it from being used against civilians who posed no security threat.
“This is line with the desires and sentiments of the rakyat. We feel there is no point in us staying in Barisan if the ISA is not amended before the next general elections,” he said.
He said there was still a lot of time before the next general election and thus PPP would only cross the bridge when it comes to it.
“We will not give up. There is still time. We have already seen some changes (in the government),” he said citing the upcoming Barisan Nasional convention in February and the Anti-Corruption Commission Bill and the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill that was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday as examples of some of the changes the government was making.
Lee Heng said Abdullah never asked PPP to leave Barisan, adding that the Prime Minister’s comment that PPP was free to leave the coalition was merely in response to questions from the media.
PPP also announced Thursday that it had sacked former president S.I. Rajah from the party for calling on Kayveas to step down as president.
The disciplinary board chairman Datuk Maglin D’ Cruz said Rajah could not appeal against the decision.
He said he had initially thought that Rajah was no longer a PPP member but upon checking found that the former president had rejoined the party in March 2007.
“For him to approach the Prime Minister and say that PPP is not leaving Barisan and for him to ask the party president to step down is a serious matter,” he added.
Maglin said the decision to sack Rajah was unanimously endorsed by the supreme council.
On Wednesday, Rajah, claiming to be an adviser to the party said he had met the Barisan chairman and secretary-general at Parliament and gave them the assurance that PPP would not pull out of the coalition.
He called on Kayveas to step down instead of issuing an ultimatum to Barisan to amend the ISA.