The prime minister has tabled the Security Offences Bill in Parliament, which will see the end of the Internal Security Act.
The reading also signalled the coming abolition of the Internal Security Act 1960, which according to Najib, had served its purpose.
“Ironically, this law which has been regarded as ‘draconian’ has ensured democracy, human rights and ‘human dignity’ to be protected in Malaysia, as compared to other alternatives if the country was under communist rule.”
“Nevertheless, the time has come and the role of the ISA has come to an end. The government has realised this fact and is committed to moving Malaysia to a more progressive future,” he told the Dewan Rakyat this morning.
The Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill 2012 was tabled for first reading last Tuesday.
The move was part of the PM’s Sept 15 promise last year to improve civil liberties.
It is believed that the announcement, along with the call to amend other laws such as the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) would help to better Najib’s image with the general election on the way.
The ISA was first introduced in 1960 as a means to fight the communist insurgency.
Speaking on this, Najib said that as of today, communism had been replaced by extremism.
He said that although these two ideologies were very different, they both had one thing in common, which was to rule via violent and unconstitutional means.
Najib added that even though the ISA was on it’s way out, the new law would not affect those already under detention, adding that they could only be set free by an order from the Home Minister himself.
Najib promises more reforms
Najib also promised more reforms, especially where the Sedition Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) were concerned.
“The government continue to carry out political change and improvement.”
“Therefore, I am pleased to announce that the government will review the Sedition Act comprehensively without setting aside any options,” he told the House.
He did not elaborate on how the law would be reviewed.
However, the PM added that three factors had to be kept in view in regards to this, which included opposing the monarchy, stirring racial enmity and questioning what was enshrined under Article 151, 153 and 181 of the Federal Constitution.
(Article 151 covers preventive detention, Article 153 safeguards the special position of the Malays, and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak and Article 181 looks at the sovereignity of the Malay Rulers.)
On the PPPA itself, Najib promised that the government would draft a new law to replace the Act.
“The law will remove the need to review the yearly printing permits as well as form a self-regulatory Media Council,” Najib told the Dewan Rakyat. Najib did not elaborate on the details of this new law.
Currently, newspaper companies need to renew their printing license from the Home Ministry annually.
The ministry also keeps a close eye on these companies, making sure that they don’t fall out of line.