Did the government sideline the attorney-general when it tabled legislative proposals in the Dewan Rakyat to bring back preventive detention?

Senior lawyer Ambiga Sreenevasan raised the question in relation to Prevention of Crime Amendment Bill, tabled in Parliament last week.

NONESpeaking at a rally outside Parliament House today, Ambiga said this is because AG Abdul Gani Patail had made a public statement in July that he is against preventive detention.

"Did the government not take the AG's advice? I want to know whether the AG had been consulted, as he has made it clear he does not agree with this," she said.

Addressing about 30 people, who had marched from the Kuala Lumpur Lake Gardens to Parliament House to hand over  a protest memorandum to the home minister, she said the argument that the proposal is to control crime does not hold water.

Rather, she said, the objective of curbing crime would be better served if police officers are paid more, trained better and given better technology to work with.

"Don't believe those who say that we need this (law) to fight crime. Other countries do not have detention without trial (to fight crime). They help the police," she said.

NONESpeaking to reporters, she said the worst aspect of the Bill is that Malaysians have been "misled".

"Before the (13th) general election, (it was) ‘abolish preventive detention’. After (the) general election, (it was) ‘bring it back’. (Voters were ) absolutely taken for a ride."

She said Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi himself seems to have "misread the Bill".

"He says there is no detention without trial but this is their appreciation of the Bill. My reading as a lawyer is different ... In the first two years (of detention) there is no real recourse, and no right to legal representation," she said.

‘Bar to continue protesting’

The discrepancy in interpreting the Bill also calls for an urgent dialogue, instead of rushing through the second reading tomorrow in the Dewan Rakyat, Ambiga said.

NONEA former Bar Council president, she said the Malaysian Bar has come out strongly against the proposals and is expected to continue with its protest.

"There is no doubt (the Bar) will do more. They would like to see more discussion, but this is not just the Bar's fight, it is for everyone," she said.

Asked if activists will stage a protest when US president Barack Obama comes to Malaysia next week, she said: "Some people may, (but) it is our battle. Malaysians must fight."

~ Malaysiakini