KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition leaders have expressed concern that the new anti-terror laws may be misused to unfairly punish individuals.
They also argued that the new laws would severely curtail fundamental rights.
“Section 13(1)(b) of the Prevention of Terrorism Bill allows the Special enquiry officer to detain a suspect for 2 years. According to Section 17(5), these two years can be renewed indefinitely every two years and Section 19 allows no judicial review or habeas corpus,” said Kelana Jaya MP Wong Chen (pic) at a press conference in Parliament lobby on Monday.
“There are severe restrictions of civil liberties under POTA. We see this as a threat to the very fragile fundamental liberties that we have in this country,” he said, urging the Government to provide adequate time for debate on the new Bills tabled.
“We only have a week to prepare for these six bills. It is completely unfair and not appropriate for such an important bill to be given such a short time. This legislation could be the biggest Bill this year,” he said.
Even with the caveat that protects individuals from being prosecuted due to their political leanings, Wong Chen said he remained sceptical.
He argued that since the definition of “terrorist activities” was underlined in a different Act, it allowed for political figures to be wrongly prosecuted.
“They say if you belong to a political party, registered under the Registrar of Societies (ROS), then you are safe. But is it really true you are safe? I don’t think so. ‘Terrorist’ is defined by the Anti-Money Laundering Act, a separate Act. So we are seeing cross definition on the laws. It is clearly not a simple legislation,” he said.
Kuala Terengganu MP Datuk Raja Kamarul Bahrain Shah Raja Ahmad noted the similarities between the Bill and the Internal Security Act.
The Government tabled six Bills on Monday to deal with the growing domestic and international threat of terrorism.
Two of the six bills, the Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2015 (POTA) and the Special Measures Against Terrorism in Foreign Countries Bill 2015, were tabled for their first readings while the rest are amendments to existing laws including the Penal Code and Prevention of Crime and Security Offences (Special Measures) Act.
Among other provisions, the Prevention of Terrorism Bill enables a person who has been engaged in terrorist acts to be detained for up to two years in the interest of Malaysia’s security after a detention order is issued.
The Bill also paves way for a Prevention of Terrorism Board to be established.
New amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act Section (4)(2a) stipulates that no person shall be arrested and detained under the section solely for their political beliefs or activity.
The Special Measures Against Terrorism in Foreign Countries Bill, meanwhile, seeks to provide special measures to deal with anyone who engages in activities involving listed terrorist organisations in a foreign country.