The above is today's Straits Times headlines. Given the sensitivities, I won't comment much on Malaysia's use of the ISA. Its leaders believe Malaysia is now more secure and it is a reminder for us to keep the ISA to ensure our own continued security.
Should mass protests occur, it doesn't really matter what they are about, the ISA can always be used to arrest its organisers saying they undermined the security of the nation, scare away investors & tourists and harm the country. I can't imagine a mass protest that does not justify the use of ISA - I guess that is why there are no mass protests in Singapore.
Why do western countries + S. Korea + Taiwan + Hong Kong + Macau + ..Phillipines + Thailand + Indonesia not have an ISA to quickly quell protests when they occur? The govt there actually have to address the concerns of the protesters instead of calling them threats to the nation's security to simply put a stop to their nonsense. Just look at the recent protests in Macau over rising inequality & prices, the govt there actually caved in and promised the protesters they will look into their plight in the coming months - wouldn't it be easier and faster to just activate the ISA if they had one?
In the 1960s, the USA had civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King Jr. If they had the equivalent of an ISA , they could have arrested him early lock him up for a few decades and put an early end to the civil rights movement. There will be no Martin Luther King Holiday and if they had a newspaper as good as the Straits Times, it would have been very easy to show that he was out to cause trouble and undermine the security of USA.
Many people believe that the ISA is still needed to take care of terrorist threats. Please don't water down the ISA okay - if it is meant for terrorist threats, they would have renamed it Anti-terrorist Act or something like that. It is a powerful instrument to take care of the security of Singapore. Yes, any gathering of more than 4 people not for the purpose of BBQs or birthday parties will definitely undermine the security of Singapore. The securiy of Singapore is undermined when investors & tourists are scared away. Although most of our tourists and investors (from USA, S. Korea, etc) come from countries that allow protests, they will be so scared when they see one in Singapore, they will flee immediately - when people come to Singapore, they expect more security than they do in their home countries. While the protesters in Macau did not cause billions to stop pouring into their little island, somehow for unknown reasons, Singapore tends to attract investors who are more jittery.
I think the biggest problem caused by protests and the absence of ISA is the acceleration of change in a country. The civil rights movement brought about greater equality in the USA, the recent protests in Macau brought about policy changes in their govt to address income inequality by considering better labour laws. In Phillipines, it brought about greater democracy. Our political system is far more advanced than elsewhere in addressing the needs of the people so there is no need for protests. Just look at our income gap, it has been ballooning for years and with recent price increases, the poor just got poorer - our govt has put in plenty of effort to solve this - they are spending years and years studying this carefully to come out with the correct policy response - good policies take alot of time for such a complex problem, that is why so little is done. Allowing protests might cause policy missteps like giving more aid to the poor, having a minimum wage and better working conditions.
Having the ISA and banning protests say alot about the superiority of our sociopolitical system in Singapore. We are confident our system best address the needs of the citizens so there is no need for protests of more than 4 people. We have a system that is far superior to those of Western societies to combat injustice and social inequality. No govt in the world deserve to be better paid for doing that and few govts have been more careful and taken more time than the PAP to address the issue of inequality, injustice, lack of freedom & democratic rights of its people. If you think about it a little harder, it becomes clear that the security of Singapore enforced by the ISA has alot to do with the securing the position of our esteemed leaders for without them, Singapore will sink.