Is Khairuddin’s action a criminal offence?

Lawyers raise eyebrows at 1MDB critic’s arrest under anti-terror law

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 24 — Despite previous assurances, Putrajaya’s use of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (SOSMA) on 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) critic Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan has revived old fears of power abuse against dissenters.

Several civil rights lawyers contacted by Malay Mail Online pointed out that Khairuddin’s action of filing reports abroad against the state-owned strategic development firm hardly constituted a criminal offence or one risking parliamentary democracy, let alone an activity that could inspire terror against the government.

“The question that should be answered by the authorities is this- how is this a crime?

“Lodging reports against individuals or a company is not detrimental to Parliamentary democracy, contrary to the initial investigations conducted on Khairuddin and which resulted in his initial remand for six days,” Syahredzan Johan said in a text message to Malay Mail Online.

He was referring to Khairuddin’s first arrest last Friday after he was denied boarding a flight to New York to lodge a complaint with US officials on 1MDB, on suspicion of acting to “topple the government” under Section 124C of the Penal Code.

The court subsequently ordered the police to release the former Penang Umno leader, but he was arrested again moments after he walked out of the court late yesterday afternoon, this time under the controversial SOSMA, which replaced the equally controversial Internal Security Act (ISA) as a law to combat the growing threat of terrorism in the country and which also provides for detention-without-trial for up to 29 days.

Syahredzan noted that the government through its own actions, has opened itself up to public condemnation by wrongful application of the law, deepened after the second arrest.

He pointed out that the authorities’ claim that Khairuddin had breached Sections 124 K and L of the Penal Code — which deals with crimes of sabotage against the country — does not hold water against an investment company, even if state-owned.

“It would be incredible to argue or claim that what Khairuddin did falls under any of those limbs.124B, 124C, 124K and 124L are all offences against the State. Not offences against 1MDB or individuals in the Government.

“How is lodging reports against 1MDB ‘intending to cause harm for the interests of foreign powers’?” Syahredzan asked, quoting from the Penal Code.

New Sin Yew who specialises in criminal law shared the same view and condemned the two arrests as power abuse.

“Lodging complaints on 1MDB with foreign law enforcement authorities are lawful. So it’s clearly an abuse of SOSMA,” he said in a text message to Malay Mail Online.

Founder of legal protection group Lawyers for Liberty, Eric Paulsen, believes the authorities are punishing Khairuddin for going against the ruling party and turning on 1MDB.

“So now we’ve seen that it has clearly been abused against Khairuddin whose offense was basically to change masters and go against the prime minister and Umno,” he said in a phone interview with the Malay Mail Online.

“By using SOSMA against someone like Khairuddin who has merely lodged police reports overseas surely must be a grave abuse of this very draconian act,” he added in a later text message.

Lawyers raise eyebrows at 1MDB critic’s arrest under anti-terror law
September 24, 2015 – MMO


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