Malaysiakini Letter

Special court, amended charges could mitigate suffering of Sosma detainees

P Ramasamy  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | It is about time that the Pakatan Harapan Government took measures to abolish the totalitarian act of Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).

Sosma was introduced during the BN rule to replace the Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA).

Currently, there are nearly a thousand detainees under Sosma in the country. Most of the detainees were arrested last year.

It is uncertain when Sosma will be abolished via an act of Parliament. However, measures can be taken now to reduce the suffering of the detainees and their families.

Early in September, 42 out 57 Sosma detainees in Kajang prison, arrested in suspicion of being members of organised crime group Geng 360 Devan, were released by a special court on an amended charge.

Of the total of 57 detainees, the prosecution decided to amend the charge from Sosma to Section 43 of the Societies Act 1966 for 56 detainees, while the charge for one was withdrawn and given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal.

As a result of the amended charge, 42 detainees pleaded guilty to being members of a designated secret society and were sentenced to a year’s jail.

Since the jail term started on the day of their arrest, the 42 detainees were released immediately on the surety and promise that they will continue to live as law abiding citizens. The remaining 14 of the 56 detainees claimed trial to the amended charge.

Under Sosma, Section 130V of the Penal Code, detainees can be convicted or imprisoned ranging from five to 20 years.

While under the Societies Act, the punishment carries a maximum three years’ imprisonment or a maximum fine of RM5,000 or both upon conviction for being members of an unlawful society.

Hundreds of Sosma detainees are suffering from being cut off from their families and their loved ones.

They could be given an option of an amended charge under the Societies Act.

I believe most of the detainees will welcome such a move, while those who feel that they are unfairly arrested could choose to push for trial.

If Sosma detainees could be charged under Societies Act, there is a possibility that their prolonged stay in prison could be avoided.  

P RAMASAMY is Penang deputy chief minister II and Perai assemblyperson.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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