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Gov't lacks political will to abolish 'draconian' laws - Amanah rep

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More than two months since Pakatan Harapan won Putrajaya, the coalition seems to lack the political will to abolish laws that allow detention without trial, said an Amanah lawmaker today.

Hulu Kelang assemblyperson Saari Sungib, in an open letter to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, urged the government to immediately announce the repeal of laws such as the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma), Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (Poca), and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota) 2015, in line with the premier having embraced the reform agenda.

"The trademark of a reform movement is the high level of political will to uphold the identity of one's struggle. My research shows that globally, political movements based on the narrative to reform have, first and foremost, freed political prisoners as soon as they are given the mandate to rule by the people.

"I imagined something like that would happen on May 9, or May 10, 2018. I also hoped that the Harapan government led by Tun (Mahathir) would have done it. But to date, not a single political prisoner has been freed," he wrote.

According to Saari, a recent forum he attended had overwhelmingly heard that "draconian" laws like Sosma, Poca, and Pota, should go with immediate effect.

"To fulfil their commitment to reform, I urge the government to take these steps - announce in the Dewan Rakyat sitting this week that the three laws will be abolished on Aug 31, 2018.

"(The government should also) form a commission or department to study the facts behind one's detention order, and cross-check it with the police's questioning procedures prior to the detention order," he said. 

Saari added that the commission can categorise detainees according to groups - to be freed on bail or to be produced in court, where the remand period should not exceed what is provided for in the Penal Code.

"All detainees under Sosma, Poca and Pota, should be freed in stages, from today until July 31, 2018. This does not include those whose fate will be decided by the court," said Saari, adding that the government should also not deny any detainee's right to bail.

"The government can charge any of the detainees only if they have sufficient evidence, and should commit to paying compensation, or the likes, as would be decided by the commission."

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