Archive for the 'ISA' Category


Disturbing slew of legislative changes

QUESTION TIME First off, indefinite detention without trial, with no chance of judicial review, has been reintroduced with the passage of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota) in Parliament in the wee hours of yesterday morning.

Basically that means anybody can be detained under Pota so long as, first the investigating officer (IO) is satisfied that the person is a terrorist threat, and two, the board that reviews the IO’s decision too is convinced that the person is.

As if that was not bad enough, more teeth will be given to the already teethful, notorious, broad-ranging, extremely oppressive relic from the colonial times, the Sedition Act.

Amendments provide for mandatory minimum jail sentences and denial of bail if the public prosecutor (yes, you read right) felt it was not in the public interest to release the person charged.

Just think about what that means. If you are charged under the Sedition Act and the prosecutor does not like you for any reason, you will have to spend the entire duration from your arrest until your trial is disposed off under detention without bail. Now that could take years.

Then there is a strange amendment in the law to remove the requirement to have a representative from the central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), on the board of the nation’s second largest fund, Kumpulan Wang Amanah Pencen or KWAP which manages over RM100 billion. Why? Whatever for?

To top all that up, PAS has tabled in Parliament a bill to pave the way for introduction of hudud in the country for Muslims, which will see punishments such as amputation of limbs for robbery, stoning to death for adultery and crucifixion for apostasy.

Meantime, BN has not announced whether it will support the bill while PAS has appealed to Muslim MPs to support the bill that needs just a simple majority to be passed.

Apr 8, 2015 – Malaysiakini
Disturbing slew of legislative changes


Anti-terror law POTA a shameless revival of repressive ISA

Preventive detention violates Malaysia’s rights commitments — Steven Thiru

APRIL 5 — The Malaysian Bar abhors detention without trial, and views the Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2015 (commonly referred to as “POTA”), which was recently introduced in the Dewan Rakyat, as a repressive law that is an affront to the rule of law and repugnant to the principles of natural justice.

It is a shameless revival of the Internal Security Act 1960 (“ISA”), Restricted Residence Act 1933, Banishment Act 1959 and Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969, all of which were previously repealed or revoked in 2011 or 2012. Moreover, many of the oft-touted goals of the Government Transformation Programme, of removing old and archaic laws, have been comprehensively reversed because POTA, like the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (“POCA”) that was extensively amended and expanded in 2014, allows for detention without trial and restricted residence or internal banishment.

POTA is purportedly directed at persons who are “engaged in the commission or support of terrorist acts involving listed terrorist organisations in a foreign country or any part of a foreign country”. However, because words like “engaged”, “commission”, “support” and “involving” have not been defined in POTA, the reach of the legislation is extremely wide and lends itself to abuse. It opens up the possibility that almost anyone could be targeted under POTA. We have seen how ISA, which had been meant to deal with the communist insurgency, was used to stifle political dissent and imprison political opponents.

The exclusion of “political belief and political activity” as a ground for detention under POTA is also false comfort. The Malaysian Bar is concerned that organisations not registered as political parties under the Societies Act 1966, or not registered under the Societies Act 1966 at all, may be subjected to the wide powers of POTA. We also note that in the past, politicians and political activists had been detained under the ISA for activities that were nonetheless viewed as prejudicial to national security or public order.

Under POTA, a person can initially be remanded for investigative detention for a maximum of 60 days. A Magistrate has no discretion to refuse a request by the police for remand, and is reduced to a rubber stamp. Further, there is no provision for the person remanded to be informed of the grounds of arrest, nor is there any guarantee that legal representation will be permitted. This is because the police are prone to applying the exclusion under section 28A(8) of the Criminal Procedure Code to deny access to legal representation. Moreover, it is to be noted that POTA allows for a Sessions Court Judge to order that an accused person be attached with an electronic monitoring device upon the application of the Public Prosecutor. However, the Sessions Court Judge has no discretion at all in the matter. Thus, like the Magistrates’ Court in respect of investigative detention, the Sessions Court has also been made a mere rubber stamp.

POTA also confers draconian powers on the Inquiry Officer — who is not expressly defined in POTA — tasked with investigating the allegations against the accused person and presenting the evidence to the Prevention of Terrorism Board (“POTB”). In this regard the normal rules of evidence and criminal procedure are excluded, and the Inquiry Officer may procure evidence by any means. The Inquiry Officer then presents his/her report to POTB and there is no provision for POTB to inquire into the report or require further investigation. Moreover, an accused person is not legally represented before POTB. POTB has extensive powers — it may grant a detention order of up to two years or a restricted residence order of up to five years. These periods of detention or restricted residence may be subsequently renewed for an indeterminate period. These orders are to be made by POTB without due process, inasmuch as the accused person is denied the right to make any legal representation to POTB.

Next, the argument that POTA cannot be compared with ISA because it is no longer the Minister of Home Affairs who decides on the detention or restriction order, is specious. Members of the POTB are appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (but, following convention, upon the advice of the Government) and can be dismissed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong at any time. This absence of security of tenure undermines whatever independence POTB purports to have. Only the Chairman is required to have legal experience, and there is no provision that he or she must be, or must be qualified to be, a Judge.

Preventive detention violates Malaysia’s rights commitments — Steven Thiru
April 5, 2015 – Malay Mail Online

New anti-terror law a giant step backwards, says global human rights body

A global human rights body has criticised the passing of a new anti-terrorism law, saying that it fears government agents can now use the threat of indefinite detention that is in the law to quash dissent.

Human Rights Watch said the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (Pota) has re-opened the “Pandora’s Box for politically motivated, abusive state actions” that had been a feature when Putrajaya used the former Internal Security Act (ISA).

“It fundamentally calls into question the government’s commitment to basic rights that are critical to the rule of law in a functioning democracy,” said Phil Robertson, the group’s Asia division deputy director, in a statement today.

The Pota was passed today after a lengthy debate in the Dewan Rakyat that stretched until 2.25am, as opposition politicians attempted to defeat the bill which brings back detention without trial.

Its critics fear that the law could be used against legitimate political activists, which is what happened when previous Barisan Nasional administrations used the ISA, which was revoked in 2012.

Like the defunct security act, the Pota empowers authorities to detain suspects without trial and disallow judicial reviews on such decisions by a Prevention of Terrorism Board.

Suspects can be first detained a maximum of 59 days (including the initial remand period), before being brought to the board, which can then order further detention of up to two years.

Following this, the detention period can be renewed if the board decides there are reasonable grounds. It can also direct a person to be set free if it deemed necessary.

The bill does not allow any judicial review in any court, noting that no court shall have jurisdiction over decisions by the board in its discretionary power.

“By stripping accused persons of the right to trial in a court, access to legal counsel, and other legal protections if they are accused under the very broad provisions of this law, the government is continuing its slide into rights-abusing rule,” Robertson said. – April 7, 2015.

New anti-terror law a giant step backwards, says global human rights body
7 April 2015 – TMI

Pota will fail, won’t deal with root cause of terror, says Saifuddin

A widely respected moderate Umno leader has criticised Putrajaya’s new Prevention of Terrorism Act or Pota, saying it will not deal with the root cause of Malaysians’ involvement in militant groups.

Global Movement of Moderates Foundation (GMM) head, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said similar laws in the past such as the Internal Security Act 1948 (ISA), were also unable to curb the rise of militant groups.

“The rational for Pota is weak”, Saifuddin said, and added that ISA failed to prevent the rise of Al-Maunah, a militant group that seized weapons from an army camp in Perak in 2000.

Similarly, the United States’ own Patriot Act did not prevent the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis), Saifuddin told The Malaysian Insider.

“Preventive paradigm is a very attractive preposition. But, unfortunately, it has shown that it cannot always prevent violent extremism”.

Saifuddin said that present laws such as the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, or Sosma, were enough.

The Najib administration has tabled the Pota bill in Parliament, arguing that more stringent measures are needed to deal with Malaysians joining terror groups. Lawmakers are set to debate and pass Pota in the next few days.

Saifuddin is the latest to join those against Pota, including the Bar Council which yesterday urged the bill to be withdrawn.

The bill comes as the Home Ministry announced on March 31 that 75 people were arrested for links to Isis.

Critics said it is similar to the ISA which was repealed in 2011, in that it provides for detention without trial.

Suspects can be first detained a maximum of 59 days (including the initial remand period), before being brought to the Prevention of Terrorism Board, which can then order further detention of up to two years.

Pota will fail, won’t deal with root cause of terror, says Saifuddin
6 April 2015 – TMI


Syed Husin: We are thru with ISA

The menace of regression is in the air and Dr Syed Husin Ali is not amused one bit.

As the author of a recent work entitled ‘Malay Rulers: Reform or Regression’, the second term Pakatan Rakyat senator from Selangor is decidedly uneasy about bringing back a law that was a part of the country’s retrogressive past.

The repealed Internal Security Act (ISA), a draconian holdover from the country’s colonial past that was retired from the statue books just over a year ago, is being talked into revival.

This talk makes the flesh of Syed Husin, 77, an ISA detainee for six years – from December 1974 to late 1980 – creep horribly.

“Right now, we could take no more regressive measure than to bring back that abomination,” opined the veteran politician and former Universiti Malaya professor.

Former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who began his premiership in 1981 by releasing ISA detainees and dipped it in infamy by incarcerating his deputy under the Act in 1998, has spoken up for its return.

“He forgets just a few years back he said that the ISA arrests in 1987 when he was both the home minister and prime minister were not done of his own volition but on police insistence,” recalled Syed Husin.

“That meant he shirked his responsibility as the minister empowered under the law to determine whether the ISA arrests should be made, thus submitting to what was effectively a police state at that point in time,” recapped Syed Husin, alluding to what he feels is apt to result when people of authoritarian bent are given untrammeled powers that come with laws like the ISA.

Inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar has also talked up the need to add detention without trial, which was what the repealed ISA provided for, to the police arsenal in dealing with rising tensions in the country over issues such as the ‘Allah’ controversy.

“He forgets what a High Court judge said about his responsibility for the custodial death of A Kugan and now he wants more power for the police to deal with recalcitrant civil society types,” said Syed Husin.

A manufactured crisis

This member of the Senate rejected the argument that tensions are rising in the country because of the controversy over the Allah issue.

“This is a manufactured crisis to divert the attention of the people from the rising cost of living. The voices of the few protesting the use of this and that word are being played up to seem like things are getting out of control but the crowds that actually turn up for the protests are small,” said Syed Husin.

“People are more concerned with what is happening to their purchasing power,” he added.

“Given firm and rational statements from the powers-that-be and all that manufactured gas would go out of the bags,” quipped Syed Husin.

“But no, it’s not in their interests to stop this thing. They allow matters to build up so that their aim of diverting the people’s attention from more pressing issues is achieved,” he said.

Jan 11, 2014 – Malaysiakini
Syed Husin: We are thru with ISA


Najib makes promises that he does not keep

Running on empty

Does Najib have the vision to make the bold decisions necessary to take our nation out of the current economic malaise and, more critical, ensure that our nation will be able to weather any future financial crisis? How goes the S.S. Najib as it sails into an impending financial storm?

Throughout his tenure as Prime Minister, Najib has shown that what he lacks in credibility he can more than makes up in naivety, which is perplexing given his political pedigree. He makes fundamental promises that he does not keep and yet over-delivers on BR1M and other financial carrots that certainly please the populace but burden the treasury unnecessarily.

In 2010, Najib said: “The government is very concerned with the rising transport cost borne by the rakyat. To alleviate the burden of highway users, I am pleased to inform that the toll rates in four highways owned by PLUS Expressway Berhad will not be raised for the next five years, effective immediately.”

Petrol prices were raised in 2013 and toll rates will be hiked in 2014.

Najib said that he would honor a pledge to abolish the Internal Security Act (ISA). Yes he did abolish the ISA only to replace it with the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act , which allows detention for up to two years without trial if the authorities determine that it is in the interests of “public order, public security, or prevention of crime” – terms not defined – and a three-person “Prevention of Crime Board” finds that the person has committed two or more serious offenses “whether or not he is convicted thereof.”

People can also be detained without trial for having been found to have failed to comply with a supervisory order. The act would allow a detention order to be renewed indefinitely in increments not exceeding two years.

Certainly a rehash of the ISA under a different guise!

On corruption: Speaking to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, Najib painted a vision of Malaysia’s future as one without corruption—even if this meant changing organisational and business cultures. He said he would “deliver what we have promised to the people (in this instance, a concerted fight against corruption) and deliver consistently over time.”

As always Najib is concise and precise in putting across his vision on fighting corruption but lacks the political will to make it a reality.

On equality and 1Malaysia, he said: “So, we must ensure that development brings economic opportunities for all, not riches for a few; that it expands not just nominal GDP figures, but also critical social infrastructure.” All this from a Prime Minister who announced at the recent Umno election that by 2020 it would be 1Melayu all the way!

Just before the 13th general election, Najib pledged in his manifesto to gradually raise an annual handout for millions of poor households from RM$500 ringgit to RM$1,200 ringgit, build 1 million low-cost homes and lower car prices by up to 30% over the next five years. Among the other pledges are more affordable housing and improved health care and transportation, including a high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. So far, he has delivered on BR1M, but everything else is up in the air.

He promised to bolster the police force to fight crime, set up more specialist graft courts and improve transparency. All cakap bukan serupa bikin ma!

Running on empty
CT Ali
December 26, 2013 – FMT


On the edge of a police state

The whole country is worried sick about the “shoot–first” policy, and understandably there has been barrage of criticism leveled against Minister of Home Affairs Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

True to character, he has remained defiant and totally unconcerned about the issues raised by his critics. In his latest tweet, he expresses bewilderment at how “these defenders of human rights” are only concerned about the rights of criminals and not the victims. He then explains that justice must be served, so when “we have evidence, we shoot them” because the victims (the majority of whom are apparently Malays) also deserve justice.

This is not the first time that we have been given a briefing on the theory of justice and human rights by an Umno leader. Nonetheless, it deserves a response if only to remind the people how bad our education system must be if a senior Minister is apparently unable to grasp simple concepts like justice, human rights and the rule of law.

In a democracy and in a modern country, justice requires due and transparent processes exercised by and through an independent arm of the government—that is, the judiciary, where the accused has the right to be heard and to argue his or her innocence. If “justice” is to be determined solely by the police and the minister, who will shoot first and ask no questions later, then we do not need the courts and the Rule of Law.

The minister says his critics see justice and human rights only for criminals. “What about the victims?” he asks. Human rights, for the benefit of the minister, are basic rights recognised by the world community. All human beings are entitled to these rights, regardless of who they are.

People must be treated in accordance with the law of the land. We do not distinguish “what kind of human” they are before they are entitled to these rights. So, we are not in favor of any particular group, nor do we call them criminals and shoot them. We do not punish anyone unless they are arrested, charged and convicted in a court of law.

The minister says that when the police have “evidence”, they shoot. What happens if the evidence is false or concocted? What happens if someone plants false evidence on the minister? Shall we shoot him too?

I have come to the conclusion that leaders such as the home minister do not understand the basic concepts of justice, rights and due process in the administration of law. Such leaders are denied this understanding because our education system has been terrible for a long time.

On the edge of a police state – Zaid Ibrahim
October 11, 2013 – TMI


Protection against tyranny of the state

MP SPEAKS The supremacy of the majority is a rudimentary principle in democracy. But such a basic principle also breeds many negative repercussions. Tyranny of the majority is one of these.

Draconian amendments were incorporated into the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (PCA) in the Dewan Rakyat last week. I would say this was made possible because we have a majority of political idiots in our Parliament.

Listening to many BN members of parliament debating the amendments, I was convinced that the majority failed even to understand the basic principle of rule of law.

The PCA (Amendment and Extension) Bill is the Internal Security Act (ISA) wearing a different uniform. It allows for preventive detention. It introduces a clause ousting the jurisdiction of any court of law to question the power of the Inquiry Board.

Yes, the minister’s power to issue detention orders is no longer there. But it does not mean such power is absent in the amended PCA. It is now vested in the Inquiry Board. So, on what basis is it deemed a ‘victory’ for rule of law that ministerial authority has been removed?

Pakatan Rakyat is strongly against the PCA amendments, and we fought tooth and nail to stop these from going through. Unfortunately, the tyranny – or rather the ignorance – of the majority reigned supreme.

In spite of the government’s undertaking that the PCA is aimed at cold-blooded gangsters, we are not at all convinced. The same undertaking was given to Parliament when Abdul Razak Hussein presented the ISA, but the facts have proven otherwise. The ISA was arbitrarily invoked against anyone seen to be detrimental to Umno, rather than to the state.

The amended PCA does not recognise judicial review in its true sense. The court is not allowed to question the subjective discretion of the decision-maker in authorising detention without trial.

The new law is to tell the court that the discretion of the detaining authority is always right, and thus there is no room for judicial intervention. Yes, the court may question procedural non-compliance but even if that leads to habeas corpus, the Inquiry Board can always reissue a fresh detention order that would render the remedy meaningless.

The PCA deals with criminals. It involves the criminal justice system. There are inherent and trite principles of criminal law that are the cornerstones of this system.

These principles protect the rights and liberties of the subjects against any tyranny of the state. Such basic principles must never be allowed to be sacrificed.

No protection for detainees

The most important of the basic tenets is the presumption of innocence. This principle stands as a hallmark of our criminal justice system. It must be borne in mind that, in criminal law, the state initiates the action. Any criminal act is in fact a crime against the state.

PCA – tyranny or ignorance of the majority?
Mohamed Hanipa Maidin
Oct 9, 2013 – Malaysiakini


Did Zahid play out Pakatan over PCA changes?

ANALYSIS Pakatan Rakyat MPs have been left feeling ‘misled’ by Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in relation to the cabinet’s apparent ‘willingness’ to consider their revisions to the Prevention of Crime Act (Amendment and Extension) Bill 2013.

Events over the final 24 hours in the Dewan Rakyat before the Bill was passed last Wednesday proved to be a stark contrast to signals that Pakatan MPs had been receiving since Monday – that the cabinet may consider accepting some of their revisions.

On Tuesday their representative – Gombak MP Azmin Ali (left) – met the speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia and expressed concern with the way the Bill was being rushed through, and was advised to approach Zahid to try and defer the Bill.

He then confirmed getting an indication that the debate would run until Thursday, the final day of this sitting, and that the other 12 accompanying Bills would be deferred.

But Zahid caught the opposition bench unawares by wrapping up the second reading on Wednesday evening and then pushing on with passage of the Bill late that night.

This happened at a time when many opposition MPs were absent from the House, presumably anticipating that the committee stage would take place only on Thursday. Only 66 of them were present.

In winding-up the debate, Zahid (right) barely answered any concerns or arguments raised by the opposition, swatting these away with one-sentence replies. All 10 of Pakatan’s revisions were bluntly rejected.

On Saturday, he shed some light on the process when speaking at an event in Malacca, when he called the amended PCA Bill “my law”.

“I (discussed) with (minister in charge of parliamentary affairs) Shahidan Kassim so that when the time comes (for a vote), the … speaker would be on our side, the Dewan Rakyat secretary will be on our side,” he was recorded as telling his audience.

‘Two-faced Zahid’

Yesterday, one Pakatan parliamentarian described the process as a “conspiracy by the government”, while another expressed certainty that the absence of some opposition MPs was part of the calculation.

“This is what we can call the tyranny of the majority. There’s nothing else that describes this,” he said.

PKR’s Kapar parliamentarian G Manivannan said the tone of parliamentary proceedings on Tuesday and Wednesday alone were enough to display Zahid’s “two-faced” nature.

Saying that the Dewan Rakyat had rushed through a Bill that serves Zahid’s “personal interests”, Manivannan labelled him a “shameless minister”.

“Some BN MPs voted for the Bill without even knowing its ingredients. How can you do that when you are responsible to your people?” he asked.

Did Zahid play out Pakatan over PCA changes?
Ram Anand
Oct 8, 2013 – Malaysiakini

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All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
when the government
fears the people,
there is LIBERTY.

- Thomas Jefferson
Do you hear the people sing?