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Malaysia inspired by U.S. Patriot Act

Government won't turn loose of law allowing detainment without trial
Malaysia protests 2011 11 22Enlarge
A Malaysian opposition-backed rally demanding electoral reforms rallies in Kuala Lumpur in June, 2011. (ANTONY DICKSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Malaysia is not a good place to violate "internal security," a vague offense that allows authorities to lock up suspects and hold them indefinitely with no trial.

But the Muslim-majority nation's draconian "Internal Security Act" -- which forbids infractions ranging from unauthorized protest to terrorism -- is under increasing pressure.

Human Rights Watch and other groups have demanded its repeal. And there are increasing hints that the harsh law may be softened.

According to the Kuala Lumpur-based Star Online, the government may finally allow any citizen over the age of 21 to gather peacefully without a permit.

But the government insists it won't scrap a code allowing police to detain anyone accused of militancy or terrorism indefinitely and without trial.

Their justification?

The U.S. has a similar law. It's called the Patriot Act.

"So, please don't have double standards and we don't want hypocrisy in this matter," said Malaysia's Home Minister according to the Star.

Despite America's push for freedom and transparency in Asia, the U.S. is in no position to pressure the Malays on this one.

Since 2003, America has confined two Malaysian al-Qaeda affiliates at Guantanamo. Both are profiled in Global Post's piece "Osama bin Laden's Asian Disciples."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-rice-bowl/malaysia-inspired-us-patriot-act

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