Ex-IGP: So-called 'oppressive' laws needed to fight crime and terrorism

KUALA LUMPUR: (Bernama) What happened after the abolition of the Internal Security Act (ISA) should serve as a lesson to the government today as it considers repealing preventive detention laws such as Sosma, Poca and Pota, said former Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan.

He claimed that after the ISA and Emergency Ordinance (EC) were repealed, it led to "a significant rise in serious crime cases, particularly involving gangs of secret societies fighting for their areas of control."

"I don't agree if it is repealed, if we can study in detail first...without Sosma, Poca and Pota, we cannot contain trained terrorists' activities such as the Daesh (Islamic State) group or well-organised, armed and violent groups of criminals," he said in an exclusive interview with Bernama here.

On July 22, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government would abolish laws that oppress the people, specifically the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).

Also linked with the proposed repeal are the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (Poca) and Prevention Of Terrorism Act (Pota).

For this veteran police officer, there was a need to have strict preventive laws to protect the country and people, thus restricting the movement of extremist groups, militant groups and organised crime groups today.

The intrusion in Lahad Datu, Sabah by a group from Mindanao led by the younger brother of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, Agbimuddin Kiram, at Felda Sahabat Kampung Tanduo, on Feb 9, 2013 is another lesson that threats to national sovereignty could occur at any time and should be contained from the start.

The crisis that saw nine security personnel and 54 terrorists killed, and about 100 people detained, could not have been easily handled if the country did not have special laws like Sosma, he said.

Musa Hassan stressed that laws to curb security threats were very important to a country like Malaysia that has a multiracial and religious community.

Commenting on claims that Sosma was affecting human rights, he said the matter was not true at all because those arrested under this law were entitled to defend themselves.

Under Sosma, a police officer may, without warrant, arrest and detain any detainee for only 24 hours and extend the period of detention to not more than 28 days to facilitate investigations.

When the investigation has been conducted and has evidence of the case, then the person arrested should be charged in court and if there is evidence but no proof that the detained person can be released...that is Sosma.

For example, an individual involved in an offence under Sosma is investigated under Chapter VIA, VIB and such offences involving terrorist activities or human trafficking can be subjected to the Electronic Monitoring Device on their feet for monitoring purposes, he said.

Any detained suspect should be informed to his next-of-kin, namely immediate family members and the detained suspect allowed to consult his legal practitioner for his defence.

Under Sosma, a detainee still has the chance to defend himself and it is not as bad as the Patriot Act in the United States where terrorists arrested around the world, including two Malaysians allegedly involved in the Al-Qaeda movement were detained without the opportunity to defend themselves at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Centre.

He said Sosma also reduced cases, among others, such as gangsterism, gambling and prostitution in which the police took preventive measures before such activities became widespread.

Musa said Sosma also played a crucial role in safeguarding the sovereignty of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Malay Rulers as well as the interests of the people that might be threatened, posing the threat of racial and religious riots.

The Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960 was repealed on July 31, 2012 and replaced with Sosma which was passed by the Dewan Rakyat on April 17, 2012.

Prior to this, Bukit Aman Counter Terrorism (E8) Division principal assistant director Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said the laws on terrorism were among the best and greatly helped to curb Daesh activities, including crippling 23 attempts to launch attacks in Malaysia since 2013. -- BERNAMA

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