PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said he accepted the blame for the detention of political prisoners under the now-repealed Internal Security Act (ISA), even though it was not his decision.
In a blog post today, he said the first thing he had done upon becoming prime minister was to order the release of 21 prisoners under the ISA because he had never liked the idea of detention without trial.
“I had hoped that during my tenure as prime minister, I would not have to detain anyone,” he added.
The Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman said he had even asked the police if the country could do without the ISA.“They did not agree, not even to reduce detention to one year.
“I am now told that detainees were tortured. I regret that the detainees in Ops Lalang were tortured. This is against the law,” he added.
Mahathir, who is also chairman of PH component party PPBM, said people had been detained under the ISA during the tenures of all three prime ministers before him.
“They had never been released on orders by the prime ministers.
“I accept the blame even though the detention was not my decision.”
Over 100 activists, politicians and academics were arrested under the ISA in 1987.
Newspapers such as Sin Chew Daily, The Star and Watan were also banned.
Mahathir was prime minister and home minister during Ops Lalang which took place that same year.