Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Preventive laws lost on undeveloped, uneducated public, Dr M says

PETALING JAYA, Sept 27 — The flurry of criticism against Putrajaya's move to beef up preventive laws and reintroduce detention without trial comes from an underdeveloped and uneducated public, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad suggested today.
The nation's longest serving former prime minister, in defending preventive detention, insisted that even if this group could not appreciate its merits, the country still needs such laws.
“I think this country would need that kind of law. The moment we remove the law, you see what happens?” Dr Mahathir told reporters here, referring to preventive laws.
“People are not developed or educated to appreciate the law is for the good of the people. You may abuse, then you have to pay the price.”
Barely two years after repealing two contentious security laws allowing it to detain individuals without trial, Putrajaya is now eyeing the return of such powers under the guise of extending its fight against crime.
In 2011, the government surrendered its powers to detain suspects without charge for up to two years at a time when it abolished the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960 and the Emergency Ordinance (EO) laws.
But according to a Bill to amend the Prevention of Crime Act (PCA) 1959 tabled by Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi this week, authorities are aiming to revive such preventive detention powers.
Among others, a proposed new clause, Section 19A, would allow the Prevention of Crime Board to issue an order to detain an individual for up to two years without trial.
At the end of the two-year period, the order can be renewed for a further two years out of necessity to ensure public order, public security or to prevent crime.
Currently, the PCA only allows for the detention of suspects without charge for up to 72 days or slightly over two months.
But Putrajaya hinted that such detention powers may not be permanent, with a proposed sunset clause saying that Part IV A is due for review every five years.
The sunset clause states that the powers for detention without trial under the PCA expires after five years unless both the lower and upper houses of Parliament pass a resolution to extend its use.
Other Bills were tabled this week to amend the Penal Code; Prison Act; Criminal Procedure Code; Evidence Act; and the Corrosive and Explosive Substances and Offensive Weapons Act to ensure that these laws will be in line with the amended PCA.
Bills were also tabled to amend the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (SOSMA) — the replacement law for ISA — and the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act.
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