KUALA LUMPUR: The Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill to repeal and replace the Internal Security Act 1960 is to be tabled for its first reading today.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said he would comment further on the Bill after it was tabled.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced his intention to abolish the ISA and make major changes to several security laws in his Malaysia Day address on Sept 15 last year.
Najib also announced the repeal of the Emergency Ordinance and the removal of the requirement for annual renewal of printing presses and publication permits.
It is learnt that the Bill will drastically cut the period a suspect can be held and will allow for detailed judicial review of any arrest or detention under the new law.
Sources said the new law would focus on dealing with terrorism, espionage and threats to national security with police being given less than a month to hold a suspect without trial.
At the end of the period, the suspect must be charged in court or released.
They said the new law would also state specifically that no one is to be detained for his or her political beliefs as was promised by Najib in his Sept 15 speech.
Malaysia also looked at the security laws of several other countries including Britain’s Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 and the Patriot Act of the United States, both of which were drawn up after the Sept 11 attacks in New York and Washington DC.
The ISA, introduced in 1960 in the wake of an armed insurgency by the Communist Party of Malaya, gives police wide-ranging powers to detain suspects indefinitely.
Under the ISA, police can detain a suspect for up to two years after obtaining the consent of the Home Minister. Keeping to his promise, Najib got Parliament to approve a motion last November to lift three emergency proclamations, two of which had been in place for over 40 years.
With that, the powers granted to police under the Emergency Ordinance are withdrawn.
The motion sought to lift the emergency proclamation that was issued by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on May 15, 1969 following the May 13 racial riots.
It was also to lift the emergency proclamations issued by the King on Sept 14, 1966 and Nov 8, 1977 aimed at resolving political disputes in Sarawak and Kelantan respectively.
The Government also pushed through the Peaceful Assembly Bill, which allows the people to gather and prohibits the police from stopping a peaceful assembly without proper cause.