Tuesday, April 17, 2012

'No guarantee security laws won't be abused'

Nothing can guarantee that a law won't be abused, as even the effectiveness of built-in safeguards depends on whether the sitting government and its chief executive will play ball.

If they do not, then abuses can still take place, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz told the Dewan Rakyat today.

NONE"The most we can do is to put in (a clause) that no one can be arrested for political reasons," Nazri (right)said.

He said this in response to a question from Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim (PKR-Permatang Pauh), when winding up points at the policy-stage debate on the Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill 2012.

Anwar had asked what guarantees the government could give to ensure that the wide-ranging special powers given to police under the new security law will not be abused, in the way that the Internal Security Act (ISA) has been abused.

Provisions of the Bill which have drawn red flags include the power of arrest without a warrant and on mere suspicion; the ability to use 'sensitive information' as evidence; and the right to remand those acquitted in prison, pending disposal of the appeals process in court.

Nazri admitted that the ISA had been used to detain persons for political reasons, thereby former prermier Abdul Razak Hussein's pledge to the Dewan Rakyat that the law would not be used for this purpose.

"....It happened, so we have to repeat the guarantee under Section 4(3) of the proposed security law. It is not just a guarantee but is codified ... It is no longer a political promise that can be given and broken, but part of the legislation,” he said.

Section 4(3) of the Bill states that no person shall be arrested solely for his or her political activities or affiliations.

'Transparent implementation'

Responding to queries during yesterday's debate as to why the new security offences have not been added to the Penal Code or Criminal Procedure Code, Nazri explained that this is not possible due to the special nature of the problem the law is being enacted to address.

"It is called security offences, special measures. To be used in special circumstances for fighting terrorism, it is not like common offences in criminal cases."
yusmadi yusoff wangsa maju pkr pc on wee choo keong resignationNazri however agreed with Yusmadi Yusoff (PKR-Balik Pulau, right) that the era of acting without transparency is over, adding that he will talk to police officials to be more transparent in  implementing the new security law.

Ngeh Koo Ham (DAP-Beruas), who intervened, asked why the courts are not allowed to release those acquitted of a charge pending disposal of the prosecution’s appeal.

It is as if the government does not trust the courts, although it touts the judiciary to be a major safeguard against abuse of the law, he said.

Nazri said this is because the matter concerns national security and, similar to serious criminal cases, the clause is to ensure that the individual will not flee or commit another offence.

'This is a terrorism case'

"This is a terrorism case, we need to detain them. Even in murder cases, we are allowed to hold the accused during the appeal process,” he added.
Finally, at 3.30pm, the Dewan Rakyat passed the Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill 2012 by  a majority voice vote , with the BN flexing its majority muscle to push it through despite arguments and regulatory roadblocks from the Opposition.
NONEDeputy speaker Wan Junaidi Jaafar presided when the Bill was passed the Bill without amendments despite much debate from the Opposition and a slew of modifications tabled by Dr Michael D Jeyakumar (PSM-Sungei Siput).

Jeyakumar (right) had submitted amendments to five sections of the Bill during today's committee stage debate, but to no avail as the BN majority voice swept his attempts aside.
Prior to that, R Sivarasa (PKR-Subang) had tried to move a motion under Standing Order 55(1), to send the proposed security legislation to a Parliamentary Select Committee for a six-month hiatus to be re-studied and reworked was also rejected amidst arguments and confusion over what "second reading" meant and what subsection of the Standing Order his motion was tabled under.

~ Malaysiakini

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