The provisions of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) appear to have been abused in charging 12 individuals for having links to the now-defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), said the Malaysian Bar.
Bar president Abdul Fareed Abdul Ghafoor said this was based on Attorney-General's 11-page statement announcing that he has exercised his constitutional powers to discontinue proceedings against the 12 with immediate effect.
"What will be lingering in the minds of the general public was why they were charged in the first place.
"The Malaysian public needs to know. It is disheartening that citizens could be arrested, charged and incarcerated without bail for a prolonged period on charges with no prospect of conviction," he added in a statement this evening.
Fareed said the Malaysian Bar had repeatedly called for the repeal of all oppressive and draconian laws including Sosma.
"Draconian laws have no place in a democratic nation, and are an affront to the principles of natural justice.
"The Malaysian Bar calls upon the Government to demonstrate full commitment to its election manifesto by abolishing such oppressive laws without further delay," he added.
The 12, including two DAP assemblypersons P Gunasekaran and G Saminathan, were detained in October.
Meanwhile, Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy said the AG's dismissal raised a host of questions about the "so-called evidence" gathered by the police to charge the 12.
"I am just wondering about the 'evidence' used against them.
"There is concrete evidence that the LTTE is defunct. The actions by the European Union that the LTTE was not a threat and it was no longer operative in Sri Lanka and others establish beyond doubt that it does not exist in the anymore,” he told Malaysiakini.
Police alleged financial transactions, plot for 'lone wolf' attacks
Following their arrest, Bukit Aman's counter terrorism division chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said financial transactions involving huge sums were carried out to purportedly activate the LTTE.
“From the investigations carried out at the suspects' premises and checks on their mobile phones, police have seized flags, posters, pictures of LTTE leaders and detected financial transactions involving a huge sums of money.
“The financial transactions are believed to fund the promotional activities, recruitment and mobilisation of LTTE programmes in the country,” he added.
Ayob, who was appointed as the Johor police chief on Feb 6, claimed that two of the suspects were planning to launch a “lone wolf” attack in Malaysia.
“For example, they had injured Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Malaysia Ibrahim Sahib Ansar in 2016,” he said.
Earlier, Thomas (photo) said the common thread among all of them was that they simply had photos of slain LTTE leaders such as Velupillai Prabhakaran in their phones or Facebook accounts.
“It is commonplace to have idols to whom hero worship is displayed. It is not just pop stars, sportsmen or actors who are admired: historical personalities and politicians are often the subject of adoration.
“Thus, millions of people across the globe admire Lenin, Stalin, Mao Tze Dong or Che Guevara, and the like. Having their photos and other representations in one's mobile phone or on a Facebook account does not transform one to being a terrorist.
“Just because each of these leaders used terror or violence to achieve their political goals does not mean that an ardent supporter online should be regarded as a terrorist or is planning a terrorist act,” he added.