SIMPANG PERTANG: The Perlis Government does not have the authority to enact laws to impose a curfew on youths, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said.
He said no state government could impose a curfew arbitrarily to curb the freedom of a person in any manner.
“Under Article 5 of the Federal Constitution, a person’s rights to be free is enshrine and guaranteed under the law. If a person’s movement is to be curbed, it must be implemented through gazetted laws that are drafted and passed by the Parliament.
“In this case, I am disappointed to note that the proposed curfew cannot be implemented in normal circumstances or under any existing state enactment,” he told reporters after presenting aid to poor students at Ladang Pertang, near here, yesterday.
On Thursday, Perlis Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim proposed a 10pm-6am mandatory curfew on youths aged 18 and below. He said the move would restrict youngsters from patronising entertainment outlets such as nightclubs, karaoke joints, video arcades and 24-hour convenience stores.
”Such a move is not in accordance with the law, hence the term false imprisonment comes into effect,” Dr Rais said.
Perlis/Kedah Bar Committee chairman T. Jegadeeson said the proposed curfew would violate the Constitution as it concerned an individual’s civil liberties.
“It is difficult to enforce or introduce the measure as it restricts movement of people who have yet to commit any offence,” he said in Kangar.
Umno Youth bureau head Zahidi Zainul Abidin questioned whether introducing such a law would contravene the basic human rights of an individual, saying:
“If they go ahead with it, we will refer the matter to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).”
He said declaring a curfew in the state was a serious issue, adding that under current laws, only the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has the power to do so.
Deputy Home Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung said the proposal may lead to some confusion in enforcement, adding: “Sometimes, youths go out to meet friends or attend tuition classes with their parents’ permission.
“There will be confusion if they are caught (at that time),” he said after launching the Hunza Golden Plan,, a new houseownership plan by Hunza Properties Kedah Sdn Bhd and American International Assurance Company in Sungai Petani yesterday.
Perlis MCA deputy chairman Loh Yoon Foo said the mentri besar must have good reasons to make such a proposal.
“We will definitely discuss the matter further at the next exco meeting,” he said.
Perlis PAS Youth chief Zolkharnain Abidin, who is Santan assemblyman, said the party supported the move in view of rising social problems involving youths while state MCA Youth chief Tan Kok Kheng hoped the state government could allow youths to attend activities organised by youth associations or clubs despite the curfew.
State Wanita Umno chief Mastika Junaidah Hussin described the proposal as positive because it was a sincere effort to address social ills.
Perlis MCA Wanita chairman Oui Ah Lan said the wing would support the proposal if it proved effective in overcoming social ills and indiscipline among youths while Gerakan Belia Bersatu Malaysia Perlis branch chairman Chan Sain Lek said the proposal should be studied carefully.
DAP national publicity bureau secretary Gobind Singh Deo said Shahidan should address the real issues behind the negative habits of youths today instead of imposing a curfew.
Perlis Youth Council president Wan Nordin Che Murat, who is also the Malaysian Association of Youth Clubs (MAYC) deputy chairman, said the suggestion was positive as it could be an effective mechanism to address social problems involving youths.
He, however, said the implementation guidelines needed to be discussed further.