|4:37PM Apr 11, 2012|
Surendran, a legal practitioner, argued that this was because the Bill was based Article 149 of the Federal Constitution, which he deemed obsolete.
Article 149 relates to legislations against “subversion, action prejudicial to public order”.
“We are appalled that the Bill is created under the provisions of the draconian Article 149 of the constitution.
“Article 149 is oppressive, unjust and no longer necessary in modern Malaysia; it should have been repealed along with the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960,” said Surendran.
Open to abuse
On the 28 day detention period allowed under the Bill, Surendran argued that this can give rise to arbitrary detention which is against the rule of law.
He said the 28 day detention period could not be challenged in court and this can be abused by the authorities to detain anyone who opposed them, including rally participants, supporters and political leaders.
“The extraordinary powers provided for under the Bill are unnecessary and harsh. There are existing criminal laws under Chapter 6A of the Penal Code that are adequate to deal with the threat of terrorism.
“The proviso that no one shall be detained for political reasons is no comfort to the rakyat, as the power to detain remains with the police,” he said in a statement today.
The new Bill is slated to replace the ISA - a notorious law that has been used against dissidents in the past - and is focussed on combatting terrorism.
Going back to outdated practices
Meanwhile, Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo warned that the new law provides no legal safeguards against possible mental or physical abuse for those detained during those 28 days, since it cannot be challenged in court.
Gobind, who heads DAP’s legal bureau, also said the Bill intends to reintroduce the “concept of confession”, which has been done away with in most criminal proceedings because confessions can be extracted under duress.
“So, to revert back to an outdated practice would be highly questionable, especially where there will be no access to court during the first 28 days of detention during which time severe pressure would be brought to bear upon a suspect.
“What we have is essentially a trade-off. Take away ministerial power to detain without trial for two years and introduce new rules making it easier to secure convictions for offences carrying the heaviest of penalties.
“Whilst I must make it clear that we in the DAP support all efforts to preserve the safety of our nation, including efforts to combat terrorism, we must ensure that all laws enacted for such purposes are not in themselves arbitrary or oppressive and meet with all those legal standards which apply, so as to be effective ultimately,” he said.
Anwar: More laws need to go
Meanwhile, PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim said that the Najib administration must abolish other repressive laws such as the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, laws restricting unions and laws which curb freedom of assembly.
“I repeat, Najib must seek to end all repressive laws, and with no reservations immediately,” said Anwar in statement today.
He noted that the repeal of the ISA, which will be completed once the Security Offences (Special Measures) 2012 Bill is gazetted, has long been championed by civil society movements and the Pakatan Rakyat.
“We celebrate this move, to end a history of detaining people for their political beliefs. I have been, as many of my colleagues in PKR and Pakatan Rakyat, detained under the ISA.
“It must not be forgotten that Malaysia’s civil society, led by movements like GMI (Abolish ISA Movement) and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), have long opposed the ISA.
“The damage it has done over the decades to thousands of Malaysians and their families will remain a scar. The world should not forget the lives ISA has ruined,” said Anwar. - Malaysiakini, 11/4/2012, Security Offence Bill 'repressive', PKR veep