Sosma, Peaceful Assembly Act to be amended

Govt is committed to its promise of reviewing the disputed legislation, says Muhyiddin


The government will table bills to amend the controversial Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) and the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (PAA) in the next Parliament sitting in July, said Home Affairs Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (picture).

The Acts, which were used by the previous administration to silence critics and Opposition politicians, will be the first two of six contentious laws to be amended or revoked by the Pakatan Harapan government.

The others are the Sedition Act 1948, Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (Poca), Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 and the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (Pota).

Speaking to reporters in Putrajaya recently, Muhyiddin said the federal government is committed to its promise of reviewing the disputed legislation with bills to amend Sosma and the PAA.

“The bills to amend Sosma and the PAA are being finalised and will be taken to the Cabinet for approval.

“I expect both bills to be tabled in Parliament during the next session,” he said in a selected media interview ahead of the first anniversary of the Pakatan Harapan government after the 14th General Election on May 9 last year.

Muhyiddin, who is also Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia president, said his ministry’s assessments on Poca and Pota are also progressing well, albeit currently under review.

Pakatan Harapan had in its election manifesto promised to abolish certain laws which are deemed oppressive and tyrannical. These are mainly edicts which can be used to detain people without trial and silence those who often offer a different opinion.

Detention without trial is allowed under Poca and Pota for up to 60 days, and 28 days under Sosma.

Sosma came under the spotlight three years ago when Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah, who is now Petaling Jaya MP, was detained ahead of the Bersih 5 rally in November 2016.

Maria was detained under the Act, which criminalises the attempt to commit activities detrimental to public order. The authorities held her in confinement for 10 days without trial, as permitted.

She later challenged her detention and contended that her arrest was a political move to intimidate the public with the intent of abstaining them from the rally. Maria also described the detention as cruel and inhumane, given that she was 61 years old at the time.

The veteran activist claimed that she was placed in solitary confinement in a windowless cell, measuring 8ft by 15ft inclusive of toilet space, and had to sleep on a concrete floor supported only by a plank of wood without any mattress, pillow or blanket.