Thursday, October 28, 2021

27th October Malaysian Day For the Abolition of Detention Without Trial laws


Media Statement – 27/10/2021

27th  October Malaysian Day For the Abolition of Detention Without Trial laws

27th October should be recognized as the Malaysian Day For the Abolition of Detention Without Trial laws. In 1987 on this day, Operation Lallang happened, where about 106 persons, including human rights defenders, women activist, politicians, worker rights activist, religious groups and others were arrested and detained without trial under the Detention Without Trial law, Internal Security Act 1960.

Internal Security Act Repealed but Detention Without Trial lives on

In July 2012, the ISA was repealed.  The Emergency (Public Order and Crimes Prevention) Ordinance 1969, another draconian detention without trial(DWT) law also is gone. However, the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985 remained as the only remaining DWT law.

There was hope that soon all other remaining detention without trial laws would also be repealed, but this did not happen. A new DWT law was enacted, being Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (POTA). Then the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (POCA) was amended to include detention without trial for a wide scope of alleged crimes.

DWT Scope no longer about ‘national security’ but expanded to cover so many crimes

The scope of preventive detention laws was expanded, and today it can be used even against persons alleged of committing any of the Penal Code offences including murder, robbery, theft and rape.   It can be used against traffickers in dangerous drugs, including persons who live wholly or in part on the proceeds of drug trafficking; traffickers in persons, including persons who live wholly or in part on the proceeds of trafficking in persons; persons concerned in the organization and promotion of unlawful gaming; smugglers of migrants, including persons who live wholly or in part on the proceeds of smuggling of migrants; Persons who recruit, or agree to recruit, another person to be a member of an unlawful society or a gang or to participate in the commission of an offence; and Persons who engage in the commission or support of terrorist acts under the Penal Code.

As such, the two persons convicted of the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu could have also been subjected to DWT laws but fortunately they were accorded their right to a fair trial.

Who gets subjected to DWT laws, and who gets charged and tried result in discrimination and a violation of Article 8(1) of the Federal Constitution that states ‘All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.’

The reasons why one becomes a victim of DWT laws cannot be reviewed or challenged in court. This means that an innocent person can wrongly suspected by the administration of a crime, and can be detained without trial for up to 2 years, and extended thereafter indefinitely for 2 years at a time.

Besides detention, the said DWT law victim can also be subjected to Restriction Orders and/or Supervisory Orders that removes one’s freedom of movement, association and other activities. All these can be done to victims of DWT laws without being accorded the right to defend one’s self, in denial of the right to a fair trial, and worse the inability to challenge the reasons and orders in court.

Even the convicted criminal can walk free until their appeals, but not DWT law victims

Even a convicted criminal like former Prime Minister Najib Razak, have the right to 2 appeals in court, and in the meantime is free to walk around freely and remain a Member of Parliament.

On the other hand, victims of DWT laws are denied their freedoms and rights, without even being tried and convicted by court. This unjustice must end.

DWT laws even remove judicial discretion during remand proceedings, as Magistrates have no choice but to allow remand as provided by these DWT laws.

DWT law victims are denied the right to fair trial, he does not have the right to defend himself at all.

DWT laws - Protection and/or Preferential treatment of ‘criminals’

Persons who committed murder, robbery, drug trafficking and a range of offences could escape trial and convictions resulting in long prison sentences and even death, if the DWT laws are used, and these who did commit crimes can end up being released in a couple of years. A murderer could be free in 2 years, when if tried and convicted, he would have been sentenced to death.

A trial is open to the public, and reasons not to charge may be because there maybe something that the government may want to hide from the general public. As such DWT laws can be abused to protect other criminals, and even their bosses or persons who instructed them to commit crime.

DWT laws – promotes incompetence of police and law enforcement

If DWT laws are used then the police and/or prosecution simply do not have to work hard to find evidence to prove someone is really guilty. Would simply subjecting one to DWT laws mean criminal investigation files are closed? This may mean that the innocent may languish in DWT detention, whilst the truly guilty may still be free out there.

It is certainly not for the police or the government to decide who is guilty and who is not – that is role and duty of judges and courts after a fair trial. One must never forget the presumption of innocence until proven guilty after a fair trial before independent judges.

How many victims of DWT laws? What is the alleged crimes?

Malaysia is not transparent in disclosing the number of current victims of the DWT laws, and for what allegation are they being made victims of DWT laws.

The victims may not be prominent politicians or personalities, but all Malaysians ought to be concerned about this large group of victims of DWT laws, who are denied even their fundamental right to a fair trial.


MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) reiterates the call for the immediate abolition of all Detention Without Trial Laws. Everyone should be accorded the right to a fair trial.

MADPET also calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently detained or restricted under DWT laws.

MADPET urges political parties and/or coalition to all political parties to take a clear stand for the abolition of all Detention without Trial Laws. A clear party position prevents U-turns when they come into power.

MADPET proposes longer periods of remand for certain serious ‘national security’ crimes, to enable police and law enforcement to complete their investigation, and for an immediate moratorium on the use of DWT laws pending abolition.

MADPET urges the government to forthwith provide quarterly report on the number of victims of the different DWT laws, whether they be detained, restricted and/or under other orders.

Charles Hector

For and on behalf of MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)


See earlier posts:

33rd Anniversary of Ops Lallang – Abolish all Detention Without Trial laws


No to using detention without trial laws - 6 arrested under DWT laws

Detention Without Trial Laws in Malaysia


Mahiaddin, the real name of PM - Court quashes detention order under Detention Without Trial law for use of 'glamour name' by PM?

Denied the right to protest by peaceful assembly before Parliament(Dewan Rakyat) passed the law allowing Detention Without Trial

Malaysian lawyers Dissatisfaction on the Delay in Abolition of Draconian Laws, and Call for Moratorium on Use of Such Laws Pending Abolition

Detention Without Trial flourishing in Malaysia? 142 juveniles and posibly thousands of adult Malaysians?

Hunger Strike 215 SOSMA victims - PH-led Government stop using SOSMA and DWT laws NOW...pending repeal?









**Last year's statement carried

Ops Lalang: Abolish all detention without trial laws

Charles Hector
Published:  Oct 27, 2020 3:20 PM
Updated: 4:51 PM 
COMMENT | On Oct 27, 1987, a black day in Malaysian history dubbed ‘Operation Lalang’ happened. This massive crackdown using the draconian detention without trial law, the Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) resulted in about 106 human rights defenders, politicians and others being arrested, and detained, some for almost two years. 

The Home Ministry also withdrew the printing and publishing licenses of the Star, Sin Chew Jit Poh and Watan, which was restored almost five months later on around March 1988.

Whilst the ISA was repealed in end July 2012, other draconian detention without trial (DWT) laws like the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (Poca), Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (Pota) and the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985 (DDSPMA) still remain, and many persons continue to be arrested, detained and/or restricted without trial in Malaysia.

DWT laws allow the Executive to administratively detain/restrict persons for reasons that cannot be challenged in courts, and as such lies and falsehood can be used. The reasons or justification for the use of such DWT laws cannot be challenged in courts. Hence, the judiciary’s role in a democracy, to serve as a check and balance to the actions/omissions of the Executive is removed.

Since the abolition of the ISA, the scope the current DWT laws are so much wider, to now even include even ordinary Penal Code crimes. A suspected thief may also be simply be detained without trial, and not be accorded the right to a fair trial.

DWT laws undermine the rule of law, justice and human rights – denying the right to a fair trial, and even violating the fundamental principle of presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) provides, “Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.”

Article 11(1) of the UDHR states that “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to the law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.”

Victims of Ops Lalang

Amongst the arrested were human rights defenders (HRDs), including women human rights defenders such as Theresa Lim Chin Chin, Chee Heng Leng and Cecilia Ng, Irene Xavier and Meenakshi Raman.

Other activists arrested included Dr Chandra Muzaffar, Tan Ka Kheng, Harrison Ngau, Anthony Rogers, Arokia Dass, Kua Kia Soong, Mohd Nasir Hashim and Lim Fong Seng.

Community HRDs included Hiew Yun Tat and Lee Koon Bun (chairperson and vice-chairperson of Perak Anti-Radioactive Committee).

Pakatan Harapan fails to repeal DWT laws

Current leaders of the DAP and Amanah such as Lim Kit Siang, Lim Guan Eng and Muhamad Sabu were also victims, along with many other politicians from the DAP and PAS. Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of PKR was also twice a victim of the ISA, in 1974 and thereafter in 1998, but he has been criticised for his silence during Ops Lalang when he was then part of the cabinet.

Other Ops Lalang politician victims included Ibrahim Ali, Tajuddin Rahman, Abdul Latif Mohamad, Muhammad Ariff Yaacob, Bunyamin Yaakob, Khaled Abu Samad, Suhaimi Saad, P Patto, Karpal Singh, V David, Hu Sepang, Wee Choo Keong, Fahmi Ibrahim, Mohamed Yunus Lebai Ali and Halim Arshat.

Madpet (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) is disappointed when the then Pakatan Harapan government that included PKR, DAP and Amanah, failed to do the needful and abolish speedily all remaining DWT laws, including Poca, Pota and the DDSPMA. Judicial review of the reasons for the arrest, detention and/or restriction is still not allowed, and that could have been remedied easily by an amendment.

The Harapan government also failed to even table bills that would lead to the repeal, not even bills that will finally enable courts to review reasons why DWT laws are used against victims – judicial review. If there was no time, bills could always be debated and passed at subsequent parliamentary sessions.

Even if politicians are not victims of DWT laws, people still are

Even though prominent politicians may have not fallen victim to these remaining DWT laws, other persons continue to be victims, and any justice-loving person or party must be committed to repealing all DWT laws. A caring government committed to justice will repeal such DWT laws and ensure everyone is accorded the right to a fair trial.

Madpet reiterates the call for the immediate repeal of all DWT laws, including Poca, Pota and the DDSPMA.

Madpet also calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all persons currently detained and/or restricted under DWT laws in Malaysia.

Malaysia must respect the principle of presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law. If anyone has allegedly broken any Malaysian law, then he/she must be investigated, charged in court and accorded the right to a fair trial.

CHARLES HECTOR represents Malaysians Against Death Penalty & Torture (Madpet). - Malaysiakini, 27/10/2020


Malaysia Resurrects Detention Without Trial, Alarming Government Critics

BANGKOK — Three years after abolishing detention without trial, the Malaysian government revived the practice on Tuesday with the passage into law of a highly contentious antiterrorism bill that opposition leaders fear could be used against government critics.

The bill, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, was passed early Tuesday by a vote of 79 to 60 after more than 10 hours of debate.

The government, which arrested 17 people this week for what the chief of police said was a plot to attack army camps and police stations, has sought to justify the law as necessary to combat the threat of terrorism in Malaysia.

Critics say the law is a further slide toward authoritarianism in Malaysia and a definitive reversal of personal freedoms that Prime Minister Najib Razak vowed to introduce soon after assuming power in 2009.

The Prevention of Terrorism Act bypasses the judiciary and allows for detention for as many as 59 days at the discretion of the police. Suspects can be held for two years, renewable for an unlimited period of time, on the decision of a Prevention of Terrorism Board, whose members are appointed by the country’s sultan.

In Mr. Najib’s early years in power, his program of liberalization featured the abolishment in 2012 of the Internal Security Act, a law that allowed for detention without trial and was used against government opponents and anyone who presented a vaguely defined threat.

But in recent months, Mr. Najib has hewed to a hard line. He faces both an ascendant opposition and an open revolt within his own party. In November, he announced that he would toughen another law that he once vowed to abolish: the Sedition Act, a British colonial relic that calls for jail terms for anyone who “excites disaffection” against religion, the country’s sultans and the government.

On Tuesday, Mr. Najib’s coalition introduced changes to the Sedition Act in Parliament, including an increase in the maximum jail term to 20 years, up from five. The revised law would also rule out bail in certain cases.

Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia addressing the annual congress of his party, the United Malays National Organization, in Kuala Lumpur last year.
Credit...Manan Vatsyayana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Malaysian lawyers are among the most vocal critics of both the antiterrorism law and planned changes to the Sedition Act, which are likely to pass, given Mr. Najib’s comfortable majority in Parliament.

Now free speech is being exterminated,” Michelle Yesudas, a Malaysian lawyer, said in a Twitter post. She circulated a modified picture on social media of the board game Monopoly in which nearly every square said, “Go to jail.”

Eric Paulsen, another Malaysian lawyer, said on Twitter, “Soon we will have farcical scenes like in Egypt where half of the opposition/dissidents will be behind bars on political trials.”

About 20 people, including journalists, opposition politicians and a university professor, have been charged with sedition over the past year.

On Friday, Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, a cartoonist who goes by the name Zunar, was charged with nine counts of sedition for criticizing a decision in February by the country’s highest court to uphold a five-year prison term for Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of the opposition. Mr. Zunar called the judges who upheld the sentence for sodomy “lackeys in black robes.”

Human rights groups have criticized the jailing of Mr. Anwar, who was one of Mr. Najib’s biggest rivals. The opposition has staged demonstrations urging his release.

But Mr. Najib also faces fierce opposition from one of the leading personalities inside his own party, Mahathir Mohamad, a former prime minister who still wields influence and whose views are widely circulated.

Mr. Mahathir wrote on his blog last week that the Malaysian people “don’t trust Najib.”

He listed a number of scandals, including the murder of a Mongolian model by Mr. Najib’s bodyguards and a government investment fund set up by Mr. Najib that has teetered on the edge of insolvency.

Mr. Mahathir predicted that the governing coalition, which has won every election since independence from Britain in 1957, would be voted out of power if Mr. Najib remained as prime minister. - New York Times, 7/4/2015

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