No U-turn on repealing draconian laws, says ministry

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 21 Apr 2019

PETALING JAYA: The Pakatan Harapan government has not backtracked from its pre-election pledges to repeal six draconian laws, says the Home Ministry.

In refuting the allegations, the ministry said it has completed two Bills for the purpose of amending the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) 2012 and the Peaceful Assembly Act (APA) 2012.

“The draft to amend the APA has obtained the approval from the Attorney-General’s chambers (AGC) and will be brought to the Cabinet soon for a decision.

“This Bill is expected to be tabled in the coming Parliament sitting,” it said in a statement.

The ministry said the AGC was still reviewing the draft for Sosma and that it hoped to also table the Bill in the coming sitting.

Yesterday, a news portal quoted Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) commissioner Prof Datuk Dr Aishah Bidin, expressing her surprise over the government’s decision not to amend such legislation despite forming a task force to review them.

Dr Aishah, who was part of the task force, said that the committee held many meetings but in the end, the government did not intend to change the laws.

The ministry said her claims were not true as amendments to the legislation were underway after two committees were formed last year to review all the six laws.

Other than Sosma and APA, the other laws being studied were Prevention of Crime Act (Pota) 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,” it said.

On the two committees set up to look into these laws, the members include government departments such as the AGC, the police, the Malaysian Bar, Suhakam, law practitioners and academicians.

“Through a series of meetings and workshops, both committees have aired issues and views on the Acts.“In reviewing the Acts, the opinions and issues brought up by both committees were taken into account,” it said.

After Pakatan 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 promises.

However, Sosma and Pota were later retained with some amendments, drawing criticisms from NGOs and groups against the government for backing out on its pledges.

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