The PH government must not backpedal on law reform relating to fundamental liberties
2 January 2018
Lawyers for Liberty refers to Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s statement on Sunday at the Bersatu annual general assembly that the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (POCA), Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) and Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) 2015 would not be repealed but be maintained with amendments.
The Home Minister claimed that if the laws were abolished, some groups might take it as a sign that they are free to do as they please, “by becoming gangsters or terrorists…”
The excuse provided by the Home Minister is without basis and sounded like the excuse given by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government and the police force for not doing anything and instead taking the easy way out by hanging on to these oppressive laws.
The government must not backpedal on its promise to rid Malaysia of the BN regime’s terrible legacy of oppressive laws. The Pakatan Harapan (PH) manifesto explicitly promised to repeal POCA, SOSMA and POTA. It is unacceptable for the new government to breach these promises relating to fundamental liberties.
We would like to remind that the Home Minister had in fact reiterated the PH promise to repeal and review all the said draconian laws at his first press conference as Home Minister on 22 May 2018.
We further remind the PH government that these laws were repeatedly abused under the BN government especially POCA and POTA as they allow for ISA-style detention without trial.
Several leaders now in the PH government had fought against detention without trial while in the opposition. Their silence now is surprising and disturbing. The PH government should not tolerate any law which allows preventive detention in any form whatsoever.
Lawyers for Liberty urges the government to go back to its Manifesto where it had promised to enhance, equip and modernise the police force. This is what is required to effectively and efficiently tackle and prevent crimes, not by using oppressive laws that confer arbitrary powers to the police. Further, modernisation of law enforcement methods will also enhance the police’s reputation as well as prevent abuse and misconduct.
Lastly, we remind the new government that when it comes to abolishing or amending oppressive laws such as the Sedition Act, Communications and Multimedia 1998, Peaceful Assembly Act, SOSMA, POCA, POTA, they have not honoured a single promise, except in the failed attempt to repeal the Anti-Fake News Act.
Lawyers for Liberty