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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Effective mechanism against the abuse of Security Offences Act

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw insists that there must be an effective mechanism to ensure the implementation of the safeguards stated in the House by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib that the Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill 2012 will not be abused.

There are clauses in the Bill that are acceptable such as Clause 5(2): no person shall be arrested and detained under this section (power of arrest and detention) solely for his political belief or political activity. A few matters must be reviewed and improved like sensitive information. Hence, a special committee as proposed by the Opposition Leader YB Datuk Seri Anwar can revise and define these things more precisely before the Bill is passed. The most important is that it shall not be used against innocent people.

On 15.4.2012, Dr Tan took part in the debate on the Bill in the House.

I rise to speak on the Bill with a mixed feeling. I am sad because the Internal Security Act 1960 was often abused. I am happy as ISA is repealed after 52 years, to be replaced by the Bill.

I have repeated my wish in this House to repeal ISA, to be replaced by an anti-terrorism act. But, the Member of Parliament for Rembau (YB Khairy) has not paid attention. Instead, this morning he criticized the Opposition for asking for the repeal of ISA without an alternative. He charges like a bull.

We must always ensure national security. This includes the House. We do not know when terrorists will appear. For instance, Norway has been a peaceful and liberal country, rich with oil and gas. Last year, suddenly  a terrorist killed 77 persons, many of whom were youths with promise.

We can look at the Bill from legal, philosophical and theoretical aspects. Briefly, I only mention the legal aspect.

On 12 July, 1948, the British declared emergency in Malaya, followed by Emergency Regulation 17D. In 1951, they enforced Briggs Plan and Operation Starvation. On 31 July, 1957, the Emergency ended. On 31 August, 1957, this country achieved Independence.

In 1960, ISA was promulgated according to Article 149 of the Federal Constitution to fight the Communists.The the Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman said that the purpose of ISA was to deal with the Communists, not politicians (non-communist).

I do not have time to go through the clauses which cause concern. For example, Clause 3: interpretation; Clause 4:power of arrest and detention; Part VII: evidence; Clause 26: evidence of accomplice and agent provocateur. Clause 30: detention pending exhaustion of legal process. Clause 31: the minister may make regulations as may be necessary or expedient for giving full effect to or for carrying out the provisions of this Act. This depends on the wisdom of the minister. He is a human being; he may err.

YB Permatang Pauh, the Opposition Leader, YB Bagan Lim Guan Eng and other MPs have raised these causes and the ways to improve them.

The Prime Minister YAB Najib has given safeguards on the Bill in this House. Previously, all Prime Ministers gave an undertaking to ensure that ISA would not be abused. But, it was often abused as admitted by Tun Hussein Onn in his affidavit. He was the father of the Home Minister YB Sembrong, Hishammuddin.

Tun Hussein reminds us thus:"...I made every effort to ensure that the power under the ISA would not be miused to curb lawful political opposition and democratic citizen activity, were respected."

Tunku Abdul Rahman reiterated, " My Cabinet colleagues and I gave a solemn promise to Parliament and the nation that the immense powers given to the Government under the ISA, 1960, would never be used to stifle legitimate opposition and silence lawful dissent."

We need an effective mechanism such as a high court to interpret the definition of a terrorist and the need to detain further to ensure that the Bill will not be abused.

Tan Seng Giaw


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