PETALING JAYA: The Pakatan Harapan government has not backtracked from its pre-election pledge of repealing six draconian laws, says the Home Ministry.
It said the ministry had completed preparing two Bills for the purpose of amending the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) 2012 and the Peaceful Assembly Act (APA) 2012, and both were expected to be tabled in the upcoming Parliament sitting.
“For now, the Home Ministry has prepared two Bills to amend APA and Sosma," it said in a statement on Saturday (April 20).
“The Bill to amend APA has obtained approval from the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) and will be brought to the Cabinet in the nearest time for a decision.
“This Bill is expected to be presented in the coming Parliament sitting.”
HOwever, the Bill for Sosma, is currently still under review by the AGC, but it is also set to be tabled in the next Parliament sitting.
The Home Ministry's statement comes following remarks by Human Rights Commision of Malaysia (Suhakam) Commissioner Prof Datuk Dr Aishah Bidin in an online article expressing her surprise over the government’s decision not to amend these legislation despite having formed a task force to review them.
Aishah, who was part of the task force, claimed in the April 20 article that the committee held many meetings, but that in the end, the government did not intend to change the laws.
In response, the Home Ministry said her claims were untrue as amendments to legislation were indeed under way after two committees were formed last year to review all six laws under the ministry’s purview.
Other than Sosma and APA, the other laws being studied are the Prevention of Crime Act (POCA) 1959, Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015, Sedition Act 1948 and Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.
“The decision to amend or abolish these Acts need to be done carefully and studied comprehensively so that national security will not be affected,” added the Home Ministry.
The two committees were made up of representatives from government departments such as the AGC and the police, as well as the Malaysian Bar, Suhakam, law practitioners and academics.
“Through a series of meetings and workshops, both committees highlighted various issues and views on the Acts.
“In reviewing the Acts, the opinions and issues brought up by both committees were taken into account,” the ministry said.
After the Pakatan government won the 14th general election in May last year, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin set up the two committees to review the draconian laws, in line with the coalition's pre-election promise to abolish them.
However, Sosma and Pota were later retained with some amendments, with NGOs and groups criticising the government for backing out on its pledge.