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These laws were proudly proclaimed repealed in 2011 by Prime Minister Najib in an attempt to shore up his democratic credentials.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:
" At this juncture too, let me stress that the Government is concern with the rise in violent crimes and organised crimes in the country. Recently, we see more notorious crimes happening. In times of economic challenges, we are drawn backwards by these ferocious crimes. Please be assured that the Government is committed to address this issue. The general safety of public and the image of the country are of utmost priority to the Government. The Government is aware of the negative implications associated with these brutal-organised crimes. The Government however is not recommending new legislations to deal with these crimes. The Government will not be enacting new laws. If there is anything that the Government would be doing, is just amending some of the provisions in the existing laws. The Government believes these criminals can be tried and punished under the existing criminal legislations in the country."
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.
The Home Ministry had notice from 16 September 2011 that the EO would be repealed.
They had about 6 - 9 months do deal with the existing detainees. Why were those detainees held in Simpang Rengam and other detention centres then not investigated thoroughly and charged in court within that period before release? Those charged in court for violent crimes could also be denied bail pending their trials to ensure they were not continuing their criminal activities.
Why then only in mid 2013 through the so-called Ops Cantas is the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 suddenly being invoked a year after these detainees have been released? Why did the Government wait until 2013 to suddenly start talking about increased violent crime purportedly due to the release of detainees resulting from repeal of the EO 2 years prior?
These facts point to a colossal failure of policing and management of security on the part of the BN government. The Prime Minister, the Home Minister and the IGP need to provide the public an explanation.
Member of Parliament for Subang
Member of Central Leadership Council ( Majlis Pimpinan Pusat ) Parti Keadilan Rakyat
30th September 2013