PETALING JAYA: The Prevention of Crime (Amendment and Extension) 2013 Bill was passed hastily to gain the support of Umno members in view of looming party polls, opined legal experts today. University Malaya law professor Azmi Sharom said the Bill was rushed through to show that Umno MPs are not “afraid” to do these kind of things.
“It’s a political thing to make them look good among their supporters and this must be done before the Umno elections so that they can boast about how tough they are,” said Azmi. The Prevention of Crime (Amendment and Extension) 2013 Bill which provides for detention without trial to maintain public order and safety or crime prevention was passed by the Dewan Rakyat early this morning. Attempts by the opposition to thwart the passing of the bill were unsuccessful when it was passed with a voice majority by government supporters at 12.50am.
Earlier in a secret vote, 115 MPs voted in favour of the final reading, while 66 MPs voted against it. Under the proposed amendments to the PCA, hardcore criminals can be detained for up to two years without trial. Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had said that the amendments were crucial to enable the police to take a “proactive” approach to crime. Asked if there was a link between the passing of the Bill and Ops Cantas, Azmi said “there may be a connection”.
“Well, we know that with these kind of laws, it is easier for the police because they can just lock a person up without doing the necessary investigation,” he said. Ops Cantas Khas began on Aug 17 and is expected to end on Oct 19. Thousands of suspected criminals and underworld gang members have been arrested since the first day of the operation. To date many groups have expressed their opinions and insight over the special operation conducted by the Royal Malaysia Police after a series of gun violence involving underworld gangs. Pandering to Umno conservatives Meanwhile Constitutional law expert Syahredzan Johan mused over the fact that the Penal Code, Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) and Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) were withdrawn because of lack of time.
“I suspect that the rush to approve the Bill is to take advantage of the public sentiments on crime. “The public do not know the impact that this Bill will have on fundamental liberties,” he said. Lawyers for Liberty adviser Latheefa Koya also echoed Azmi’s sentiments. “There should not have been any rush passing this Draconian bill, but it looks like it was done to pander to the right wing conservatives for the Umno elections,” she said, She explained that doing away with the Internal Security Act (ISA) and detention without trial was a sign of liberalisation – “not something hardcore Umno will accept.”
“Also, it is to give an illusion to ‘fighting’ crime,” she said, adding that this is not empirical evidence at all. When asked if the Bill was passed in connection to the Ops Cantas, she said: “We have yet to see how Ops Cantas is to be connected with the PCA as the PCA bill is yet to be enforced”. She added that the government does not need extra powers because “without amendment also they can use PCA already to monitor so-called gang members”.
By Alyaa Ashar, Free Malaysia Today