KUALA LUMPUR: The first step has been taken to do away with the Internal Security Act introduced in 1960 to counter armed communist insurgency but has since become a source of controversy.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz tabled the first reading of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill 2012 to repeal and replace the ISA.
While seeking to broaden civil liberties, the proposed Act recognises the grave threat of terrorism, sabotage and espionage.
In contrast to the ISA that allows detention without trial, the Bill stipulates that all security offences be tried by the High Court.
Security offences include waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or aiding the escape of a prisoner of the State as listed under Chapter VI and VIA of the Penal Code.
Under clause 4 of the Bill, a police officer may, without warrant, arrest any person whom he has reason to believe is involved in security offences. However, no person should be arrested solely for his or her political belief or political activity.
A person arrested under the proposed Act may be held for 24 hours but the detention may be extended up to 28 days by a police officer of the rank of Superintendent or above to facilitate investigations.
If the police officer believes that further detention is not necessary, the person may be released but an electronic monitoring device will be attached to the person until the 28-day period is up. Any person convicted of tampering with or destroying the device faces a maximum jail term of three years and is liable to pay for damages.
In most circumstances, no bail will be granted to a person charged with a security offence. However, a person below 18, a woman or a sick or infirm person charged with a security offence may be released on bail, subject to an application by the Public Prosecutor that the person be attached with an electronic monitoring device.
The investigation officer will notify the next-of-kin of an arrested person of the detention and allow that person to consult a lawyer.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced the repeal of the ISA in his Malaysia Day message in September last year as part of government efforts for political transformation.
Related Stories: Hisham: Tabling of Security Bill is proof that it is not empty talk by Govt Mixed reaction to new Security Bill
Did you find this article insightful?