Malaysiakini Letter

IGP is wrong, Sosma must be repealed


LETTER | Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet) is appalled by the fact that Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador is trying to lobby that the draconian Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, which Pakatan Harapan in their election manifesto promised will be repealed, should be retained. 

Hamid said, amongst others, that “if Sosma is taken away from us, it means you take away our 'guns' to fight terrorists."

He claimed that "the Counter-Terrorism (E8) Division of the Bukit Aman Special Branch has racked up an impressive number of arrests and stopped planned attacks from happening here."

This claim, however, is not substantiated by the number of convictions after an open trial. 

If Sosma only was used, then there must be a trial. Preparing or planning for a crime is also a crime in Malaysia which will be tried. 

Maybe, the government could give us the statistics of the number of persons who have tried and convicted for terrorist offences, including the offence of preparing to carry out terrorist actions.

Sadly, the IGP also seem to be unhappy with the abolition of the Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA), that draconian detention without trial law, has been abolished by the then BN government, who then simply extended the scope of the Prevention of Crime Act 1959, another detention without trial law, and enacted also enacted a new detention without trial law being Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015. 

Madpet is now concerned about the suitability of Hamid as Malaysia’s IGP, noting that this was a political appointment.

The IGP also recently said that the 2016 arrest and detention of Maria Chin Abdullah, using Sosma, was justified. 

He forgets that the now Petaling Jaya MP Maria had after her release sued the government with regard her arrest and detention, and the government has since agreed to pay her compensation of RM25,000 in damages and RM5,000 in costs.

This is an indication or rather an admission that the government has done wrong in arresting and detaining her using Sosma.

Hence, what the IGP says now seems to be against the current government position, or alternatively an allegation that the government acknowledgement of fault and the payout of compensation was wrong. 

Was Maria then accorded ‘special treatment’ because she, who was then the Chairperson of Bersih, had since been elected as a Harapan MP?

Soma has, amongst others, three main draconian elements being:

  • Removes the requirement of bringing before a magistrate within 24 hours, hence ousting the judicial authority of magistrates to consider whether to allow further remand. An arrested suspect needs to be brought before a magistrate 24 hours after arrest. During remand applications by the police to enable a suspect to be kept in detention for the purpose of investigation, the magistrates decides after hearing the police, the suspect(or his/her lawyer) and then makes the appropriate just order – no further remand or remand for how many days. In the case of Sosma ‘security’ offences, there is no need to bring before a magistrate, and all that is required is ‘a police officer of or above the rank of superintendent may extend the period of detention for a period of not more than 28 days, for the purpose of investigation.’ (Section 4(5))
  • Denial of bail for persons charged in court – In ordinary criminal cases, the accused is generally entitled to bail, but no bail, if one is charged with any one of over 70-100 ‘security’ offences listed in Sosma. Section 13(1) states ‘(1) Bail shall not be granted to a person who has been charged with a security offence.’
  • Allows the use of evidence that is not allowed by our Evidence Act 1950 in criminal trials, and also allows for ‘special procedures’ during trial including the ability for ‘court shall hold an inquiry in camera by questioning the witness concerned or any other witness in the absence of the accused and his counsel’. That means the lawyer and the accused cannot even cross-examine or challenge the evidence. It will not be a fair trial.

The need for the police to bring the arrested before a magistrate within 24 hours is a right provided for in the Federal Constitution, and our Criminal Procedure Code. 

To just trust the police will exercise their power rightly is not something that any reasonable person can accept, and that is why the right to be brought before a magistrate within 24 hours exist – and why the magistrate is empowered to evaluate the complete facts to determine whether further remand is allowed or not, and for how long.

The legal principle that one is presumed innocent until found guilty by a court – not the police or the government. This principle must always be respected.

The BN government also introduced a new kind of offence, being "activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy," which is just too vague and is open to abuse. This must certainly be repealed. 

There, small offences like receipt of publication detrimental to parliamentary democracy is also a Sosma-listed ‘security’ offence. 

Mdapet calls for the repeal of Section 124B to 124J of the Penal Code, all the offences concerning "activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy."

In Malaysia, there is still no criminal compensation scheme that will compensate persons who have been detained wrongfully by the police or in prison. 

After 28 days in detention by police, one is not charged but released, and this suggests that the detention was wrong. After languishing in prison because Sosma denies bail, and the court finds you not guilty. It is unjust that an innocent person is not compensated for his or her loss of liberty.

Remember that these suspects or those that languish in prisons because bail is denied are fathers, mothers, spouses and siblings, who do have a responsibility to families and dependents. Prolonged detention can result in loss of employment, income and also business.

Whilst acknowledging the right of the IGP has the right to his personal opinion, the government should not falter in doing justice by the abolition of Sosma and all detention without trial laws.

Therefore, Madpet: 

  • Reiterates the call for the immediate repeal of Sosma;
  • Calls for the repeal of Section 124B to 124J of the Penal Code, all the offences concerning "activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy";
  • Reiterates the call for the repeal of all detention without trial laws like Poca, Pota and the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985, which also denies the right for the victim to file for judicial review against the reasons used for his/her detention/restrictions.
  • Calls on the government to ensure justice is done and ensure that everyone is accorded the right to a fair trial.

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

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