Online Exclusive

Making Progress

Published: Tuesday April 14, 2015 MYT 3:44:00 PM
Updated: Tuesday April 14, 2015 MYT 3:52:34 PM

A Political Evolution

A Political Evolution

The last Parliament session was an interesting session. For the first time in history, with the clocked being stopped, Parliament ended at 4.31am on 8/4/2015. Despite 12 bills being tabled and a number of them passed, the Prevention of Terrorism Bill (Pota) 2015 and the amendments to the Sedition Act 1948 garnered the most attention.

My party, Gerakan, has always stood for a fair, just and equitable society. The party was formed in 1968 on sound social democratic credentials and our party constitution spells our aims and objectives clearly and in an unambiguous manner.

My party also long campaigned against the Internal Security Act (ISA) because we had an serious issue with its overuse and its deviation from its primary aims and objectives that were very clearly spelt out by our second Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak when tabling the law before Parliament on 21st June 1960 and I quote from the Hansard: “The Government has no desire whatsoever to hinder healthy democratic opposition in any way. This is a democratic country and the Government intends to maintain it as such. It is the enemies of democracy who will be detained.”

However, we were also humble enough to appreciate that it was a long and arduous struggle. In 2012, we whole-heartedly welcomed the Prime Minister’s Political Transformation Programme and part of that programme was the abolishment of the much-maligned ISA. The campaign did not have any of the gravitas one would normally expect from such a campaign. In fact it was staid and included a number of memorandums and closed-door discussions. I personally attended a number of dialogues with the Home Ministry.

Gerakan also maintained that to abolish the ISA and leave the Police without the tools to tackle terrorism and terrorism-related acts would be irresponsible because our security is sacrosanct and can never be taken for granted. Gerakan supported the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 in the interest of national security.

 

Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2015 (Pota)

However, with the advent of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) and fundamentalism, there is a need for a more robust legal framework to counter and neutralise these threats. Like most Malaysians, I was personally astounded by the number of Malaysians who have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight for Isis and rather suddenly the existential nature of the threats posed by terrorism was very apparent.

I wrote at length in my last article about the need for a legal framework that is agile and preventive in nature to counter the threats posed by terrorism and terrorism-related activities.

The amorphous nature of terrorist acts and its ability to cripple our energy apparatus, infrastructure and technological framework, it is important for the authorities to have the right tools to do their job of preserving national security. Furthermore, a number of Isis operatives have been arrested in Malaysia and their zeal to wreck havoc and threaten our way of life cannot be underestimated.

At the same time, Gerakan is acutely aware of our commitments to human rights and the rule of law. Preventive detention is difficult topic and but as a responsible political organisation we have to err on the side of caution and security.

The formation of the Prevention of Terrorism Board to decide on detentions without trial was a hard fought concession. Unlike the Isa where the power to decide was with the minister in charge of national security, the power now rests with a Board appointed by the King. This in built safeguard to prevent abuse is a clear example that this act is not to cripple or circumscribe legitimate political activity. Furthermore, Pota clearly states that the law cannot be used against anyone furthering his or her political aims and objectives (see Section 4(3), Pota). Previously such safeguards and guarantees were absent and that led to the Isa’s overuse and abuse.

Furthermore, we also forget that other countries have also enacted prevention of terrorism legislation as a response to the September 11, 2001 attacks in America and the rise of Isis. The Patriot Act (United States), Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 (United Kingdom, Prevention of Terrorism Act 2012 (Kenya), Anti-Terrorism Act 2005 (Australia) and Anti-Terrorism Act 2015 (Canada) are a few examples and have been referenced by Gerakan when providing our feedback and input for Pota.

All these laws have been enacted taking into account the threats posed in these respective societies and the social, legal and political milieus of each country. The authorities also have the responsibility to ensure that Pota is NOT overused and abused. Honest implementation of Pota will ensure its legitimacy and acceptability.

More Articles

Filter by

A Political Evolution

14 April 2015

The last Parliament session was an interesting session. For the first time in history, with the clocked being stopped, Parliament ended at 4.31am on 8/4/2015. Despite 12 bills being tabled and a number of them passed, the Prevention of Terrorism Bill (Pota) 2015 and the amendments to the Sedition Act 1948 garnered the most attention.

Defining terrorism

1 April 2015

The fundamental liberties offered to Malaysians by the Federal Constitution must be respected but those who deliberately seek to harm and threaten the country must be punished.

PAS' hudud push

18 March 2015

Malaysia faces another political dilemma thanks to PAS' insistence on following its hudud agenda.

The Bar Council’s credibility problem

3 March 2015

In 2012, after three years in the civil service, I left to complete the last phase of my legal education. Despite graduating in law in 2008, I postponed my chambering or pupilage (as it is known in England and Wales) and I believed that after four years it was wise for me to complete it.

The Conversion and Custody Conundrum

17 February 2015

Issues concerning minors must be resolved with sagacity keeping in mind the overriding interests and welfare of the child.

Rejecting extremism must be a way of life

3 February 2015

LIKE most Malaysians, I find it troubling and disconcerting that 39 Malaysians have found their way to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) battle against the Syrian and Iraqi governments.

Gaining strength in adversity

21 January 2015

It is always in adversity that the human spirit is most resilient and that resilience gave us the strength to overcome.

advertisement

Recent Posts

advertisement