KUALA LUMPUR: Retaining the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (Poca) is good as the law can be used to prevent victims from falling prey to scammers, says Datuk Seri Michael Chong (pic).
The MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head said Poca should be used against syndicates whose members impersonated authorities as part of their tactics to cheat victims.
“In my personal view, laws like Poca should not be abolished as it can be used on these conmen who impersonate policemen or other authorities,” he said.
On Dec 30, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said laws such as the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) along with Poca were important although some amendments might be needed later.
Chong said abolishing Poca could embolden criminals.
Under Poca, a person can be detained without trial for 60 days with a provision for a two-year extension.
Critics have said the way the act was applied was a violation of human rights. To this, Chong said Malaysians had nothing to worry about if they were not involved in crime.
“If you’re not a conman or a scammer, why should you worry?” he said, adding that the act could potentially cripple the syndicates and prevent victims from parting with their hard-earned money.
Chong said this when briefing the media about a case in which a woman almost became the victim of a Macau Scam syndicate.
A Macau Scam often starts with a phone call from someone pretending to be an officer from a bank, government agency or debt collector.
The scammer will then claim that the potential victim owes money or has an unpaid fine, often with a very short window of less than an hour to settle the payment or face dire consequences.
The unsuspecting victims will then be asked to make payments to get them off the hook.
In the incident, Teh Gaik Yong, 47, quickly wised up to the fact that a syndicate was trying to cheat her after receiving a call purportedly from Pos Laju in Terengganu.
On Dec 31, Teh spoke to three people who claimed they would help her lodge a police report after her MyKad details were supposedly used to send a package to Sabah.
She lost her MyKad last year and had reported the loss.
Her suspicions were confirmed when another individual posing as a police officer called her back using a number similar to that of the Terengganu Police Headquarters but with the prefix +999.
Although she evaded the con, Teh still lodged a police report at the Desa Jaya police station before bringing the matter up with Chong.
Chong said the same modus operandi was used on five victims last year who also brought their grouses to him.
However, the victims found out too late and ended up losing between RM6,850 and RM3mil.
Poca, along with Sosma, the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (Pota), Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, the Sedition Act 1948, the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, was to be tabled at Parliament for amendments or abolishment in November last year.
Also under review is the death penalty.
The government had also put a moratorium on Poca, Pota and Sosma but withdrew it following riots at the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman temple in USJ25 the same month.
The riots had resulted in the death of fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim who was critically injured after responding to an emergency there.