PETALING JAYA: Former home minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has questioned the government’s move to abolish the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma), the controversial law widely seen as a replacement to the Internal Security Act (ISA).
In a statement, Zahid said unlike the ISA which had been used by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad during his first stint as prime minister, Sosma couldn’t simply be invoked and there were provisions for a trial.
“The ISA allows for detention without trial while with Sosma, detainees can only be held for a maximum of 28 days before facing trial,” said the Umno president.
He said Umno questioned the logic of abolishing Sosma which safeguards public order as some parties were already challenging the Malay rulers and playing up racial sentiments since Pakatan Harapan took over as the federal government.
“The abolishment of Sosma will give more room to certain parties to increase racial and religious provocations through the social media and the internet. Coupled with the government’s intention to abolish the Sedition Act 1948 and the Anti-Fake News Act 2018, the government seems to want to encourage religious, racial and political provocations in the country,” Zahid said.
The former deputy prime minister said the country was facing “remote controlled” security threats and that at a time of great change to the local and international political landscape, laws like Sosma and the Sedition Act fit the requirement of the times while ensuring the rights of individuals were protected.
“Is Mahathir doing all this to preserve his political interests or is he trying to please PH voters?”
Zahid advised the people to be prepared to see instability, much like the growth of subversive activities seen after the independence which led to the formulation of the ISA.
He said the previous administration had never taken into account political interests in formulating laws to protect each citizen and was ever ready to take unpopular approaches in the interests of public safety.
“Mahathir never faced criticism in cyberspace during his first stint. Is he now prepared to face all sorts of lies as what PH had resorted to before GE14?”
Zahid said perhaps Mahathir felt Sosma and other laws formulated by the previous administration “weren’t strong enough” and felt a “stronger” law was needed to curb criticism against him.
“Does this mean a return of the ISA? Let us see.”
Yesterday, Mahathir said the government would repeal laws that were oppressive, especially Sosma.
Subsequently, Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) senior vice-chairman Lee Lam Thye urged the government to obtain feedback from the police and other stakeholders before abolishing Sosma.