Amendments to the Crime Prevention Act (CPA) to tackle organised crime took centrestage at Dewan Rakyat last week, with strident calls by Opposition lawmakers for the withdrawal of the proposed Bill before its second reading.
Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor) chided the Government for bulldozing the law that allowed for detention without a trial, a law reminiscent of the repealed Internal Security Act (ISA).
Equally vocal in his protest was Gobind Singh Deo (DAP-Puchong), who questioned earlier assurances given by the Attorney-General that such preventive laws would not be reintroduced in place of the abolished Emergency Ordinance.
Azmin Ali (PKR-Gombak) lamented the limited time allotted for lawmakers to debate such a crucial law.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, in defending the Government’s move, said that the Bill would not be withdrawn but tabled with amendments at the final Committee Stage.
He said CPA is different from ISA as the powers to certify a suspect’s detention were not at the discretion of the Home Minister, but rest with a Board, whose members were appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and answerable to Parliament.
He also insisted that there were safeguards in the form of judicial review of a suspect’s detention, although Karpal argued that the courts’ review was merely for procedural matters, and not substantive law.
There were also some light moments during the heated exchanges on CPA.
Outspoken lawmaker Datuk Bung Mohktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) drew laughter when he admitted to carrying a pistol due to his fear of fatal shootings.
He said he’d rather go out with his guns blazing rather than be shot dead unarmed by criminals.
Barisan’s Baling MP Datuk Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim and G. Manivannan’s (PKR-Kapar) bantering in Tamil over Chin Peng’s ashes also got lawmakers in stitches.
PAS Kuala Krai MP Dr Mohd Hatta Ramli added to the comedy when he stood up and asked whether he was in the Malaysian parliament or the Indian parliament.
However, Opposition lawmakers failed to block the Bill from being passed on Wednesday with Parliament forced to “stop the clock” just before midnight to allow lawmakers to continue debates.
It was the fourth time in 23 years that Parliament’s clock was stopped to ensure that proceedings were completed within the given day.
The Bill was finally passed at 12.50am on Thursday, with Opposition lawmakers describing it as a black day in the nation’s history.
Dr Ahmad Zahid rebutted this by saying that it would have been a black day for the nation and the victims of those killed by criminals if the CPA had not been passed.
Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, in summing up eight hours of debates, reminded lawmakers not to waste time trying to score political points by raising issues which had already been debated in and out of the Dewan.
“I am not here to say who is right or wrong, but to remind you (lawmakers) that there will always be differing views in a democracy.
“Your role as lawmakers in this democratic process is to decide on the matter at hand ... that is all,” he said just before voting on the CPA was done.
Outside Parliament, it was the Auditor-General’s Report 2012 that drew much attention from lawmakers, in particular, the loss of RM1.3mil worth of assets by the police which included handcuffs and 44 guns which “may have fallen into the sea”.
Parliament will sit again on Oct 21.
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