Charles Santiago has reiterated his call for the repeal of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 after the families of the 12 men detained under the law for alleged links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) gathered in Parliament to highlight their plight.
Describing their arrests as nothing short of a joke, the DAP lawmaker compared it to the police's stand on the return of Malaysians involved with the Islamic State (IS) and the release of militant Yazid Sufaat.
“Compare this with the red carpet the police has spread out for Malaysians, who were part of IS, to return home.
“Or the recent news where Yazid Sufaat, who played a crucial role in the US 9/11 attacks, was released, albeit with a tracker device,” he added.
Charles said it was a sad day in Parliament yesterday, when the families of the 12 sought justice for their loved ones and appealed to the conscience of the government.
“As offences under Sosma are not bailable, the families are facing financial hardships and emotional trauma as some of these men are the sole breadwinners.
“There is no necessity to hold the men under Sosma in the first place as there are enough legal provisions in the Penal Code to charge them under,” he added.
Among the 12, who were detained last month, are two DAP assemblypersons G Saminathan and P Gunasekaran.
According to the police counter-terrorism division, the men were detained for attempting to revive the LTTE, which was decimated in 2009 and whose demise ended the protracted civil war in Sri Lanka.
The police also alleged that one of the suspects was plotting to launch an attack on the Sri Lankan High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.
Learn from 'shameful defeat' in Tanjung Piai
Meanwhile, Charles expressed concern that even if the 12 are acquitted, the men might remain incarcerated until their appeals are heard.
“This amounts to a travesty and miscarriage of justice,” said the Klang MP.
Charles also pointed to news reports around the world on the recent Sri Lankan election, where President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, whom he appointed as prime minister, are described as the men who uprooted the LTTE.
“But the Malaysian police arrested 12 Malaysians for attempting to revive the liberation movement. This is a joke.
“Bukit Aman's counter-terrorism division principal assistant director Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay even said financial transactions were detected in the accounts of the individuals detained, to enable the resuscitation of the LTTE.
“But these men were subsequently charged for committing various offences related to sympathising with the LTTE between 2014 and this year.
“And there is absolute silence about the alleged movement of money. If anything, they were charged for having paraphernalia in their homes and video footage on their phone,” he added.
Charles said the “shameful defeat” for Pakatan Harapan in the Tanjung Piai by-election should send a clear message to the government to keep its promises.
“Repealing draconian provisions under Sosma is one of them. But reviewing and making changes to the law won't cut it as almost all provisions within it are draconian.
“And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that pussyfooting with our promises would only prolong the people’s anger.
“We need to therefore, repeal Sosma without further delay and release all those detained under this law, including the 12 who have been held for 42 days and counting,” he added.