Posted: 29 Sep 2013 11:09 PM PDT
PRESS STATEMENT by SIVARASA RASIAH, Member of Parliament for Subang on the proposed amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act 1959
The amendments proposed by the BN Government to the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 are intended to create powers of detention without trial similar to that which previously existed in laws like the Internal Security Act 1960 ( ISA ) and the Emergency ( Public Order and Crime Prevention) Ordinance 1960 ( EO).
These laws were proudly proclaimed repealed in 2011 by Prime Minister Najib in an attempt to shore up his democratic credentials. However the immediate introduction of the new Security Offences ( Special Measures ) Act or SOSMA replete with oppressive features quickly dented that attempt. Now the claims to any democratic credentials go up completely in smoke with the wholesale reintroduction of detention without trial with these amendments.
The new amendments invoke the draconian Article 149 of the Federal Constitution and reintroduce 2 year periods of detention which are renewable with any meaningful judicial review excluded. The main difference now is that the decision to detain for 2 years is made by a board chaired by a judge and not the Minister. Apart from this, the process is fundamentally the same. It is draconian and unacceptable.
We note that MCA and Gerakan leaders have voiced opposition to these amendments. We wait to see if they will vote against this Bill when presented tomorrow.
A question also arises whether the Attorney-General has consistently misled the public with his recent statements that he is opposed to a reintroduction of detention without trial. He cannot plead ignorance of these Bills which the BN government will introduce next week; after all, they are drafted under his supervision. One wonders why the AG as recently as a few weeks ago on 24.8.2013 in a forum organized by the Home Ministry had said that there was no need today for such laws and that the police had been able to deal with violent criminals such as Botak Chin without recourse to such laws.
Equally relevant is the question whether the Minister responsible for legal affairs in the Prime Minister's Department, Nancy Shukri, was similarly misleading the Bar Council when she said at a meeting with them on 18.9.2013 as follows: ( I quote from the Bar Council website)
"There are some rumours (or perhaps I shall say as hearsay) that the Government is planning to re-introduce laws that are similar to the EO. These are all out-dated matters that the public should not be discussing anymore as we are no more going back to laws which are obsolescent to our society and needs."
She then added as follows:
So, the clear impression is given of just "amending some provisions" and using "existing criminal legislation".
However, the far-reaching amendments, whilst technically not being "new legislation", are clearly contradictory to the impression given.
30th September 2013
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