Preventive laws review at final stage

Muhyiddin says the govt needs to look into these 3 Acts to ensure that they do not go against human rights with oppressive elements

By DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Pic BERNAMA

The review on preventive laws is in the final stage and could be tabled in the current Parliamentary sitting, said Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

He said a special committee and a technical committee are studying in detail the legal provisions in the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma), the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (Pota) and the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (Poca).

“It (the review) is now at the final stage as we have come up with a draft and will forward it to the Attorney General’s Chambers,” he said during the question-and-answer session in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

He was replying to a question from Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah who wanted to know the time frame for the review to be tabled in Parliament.

“Once it is done, we will take it to the Cabinet for consideration, after which we will bring it to Parliament to be tabled.

“My job is to expedite the tabling of this review…We hope to have it tabled in the next sitting,” the minister said.

Muhyiddin said the three Acts were formed under Article 149 of the Federal Constitution to enable the authorities to bring criminals and terrorists to justice without having to go through normal court procedures.

He said this was because the normal court procedures require a clear burden of proof, whereby witnesses present for examination, cross-examination and where all evidence tendered must be admissible.

“For cases involving security offences, statements obtained from witnesses are classified intelligence and cannot be revealed in open court, to protect their safety.

“There were also instances where witnesses refused to attend court to give their testimonies despite being offered protection — all for the sake of their safety and to protect their families from being threatened,” he said.

Prior to this, Muhyiddin said his ministry has formed a committee to review all laws under its purview with a view to protect all citizens from any forms of violation of their basic human rights.

Among others, the committee will look into the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, Sedition Act 1948, the death penalty, the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, Poca, Sosma and Pota.

Responding to Maria’s initial question on why the government was depending on preventive detention under Sosma, Poca and Pota when the Criminal Procedure Code sufficed, Muhyiddin said preventive laws are to detain criminals and terrorists for reform through a stable reform module.

“I am well aware of human rights violations that have arisen from the use of the laws.

“Hence, we are reviewing these laws for the purpose of improving them,” he said, adding that a special task force has been set up to study the provisions in the legislation.

The abolition of capital punishment is also in line with the Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto for the 14th General Election.

Muhyiddin added that the improvements to be made include the detention periods under these laws which are too long; police powers on investigation and arrest which are too broad and open to abuse; as well as the limited powers for the courts to carry out judicial intervention, including a judicial review.

To a supplementary question from Pontian MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan whether the review on such laws would help keep the country safe, Muhyiddin said he could not guarantee the nation’s safety without them.

“Nevertheless, the government needs to look into these Acts to ensure that they do not go against human rights with oppressive elements,” he said, adding that about 2,000 were held under Sosma, 473 (Poca) and nine (Pota).