Malaysian Bar dismayed with govt’s defence of Sosma, Poca

Malaysia Bar president George Varughese says there are sufficient laws to deal with crime and terrorism. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Bar has joined the chorus of protests against the government’s decision to retain the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) and the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (Poca) with amendments.

Its president George Varughese said the Bar was “astounded” by Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s recent announcement on the matter.

“We are also dismayed at his statement that without Sosma, terrorists and criminals would be free to threaten our national security, and that ‘things are also still under control with two other security acts – Poca and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota)’,” he said in a statement.

Varughese reminded the government that Sosma and Poca were among the laws Pakatan Harapan (PH) had described as “oppressive” and “tyrannical” in its election manifesto.

“In that manifesto, it had pledged to revoke Poca and abolish the draconian provisions in Sosma,” he said.

He said the Malaysian Bar had, over the years, “persistently and unequivocally” called for the repeal of the two acts.

“These laws are notorious for having been abused in the past and, while they remain on the statute book, the potential for misuse by any government, however well-intentioned, remains ever present.”

Varughese said that in the nation’s resolve to defend and preserve harmony, peace and security, it was essential the government did not enjoy carte blanche to deprive persons of their constitutional rights and civil liberties with impunity.

“At all times, the rule of law must be abided by, human rights must be respected and protected, and the principles of natural justice must apply,” he said.

“Failing this, any assurances by the government in our ‘new Malaysia’ would serve only to impart a false sense of security, as it is undeniable that oppressive laws can be used – and misused – so long as they are not repealed.”

He reiterated that there were sufficient laws to address the threats of crime and terrorism without resorting to Sosma and Poca or any other authoritarian laws.

If necessary, existing laws could be amended, or appropriate new laws enacted, to ensure that national security is not compromised.

“Public trust and confidence in the government must not be eroded.

“The Malaysian Bar calls upon the government to demonstrate full commitment to its election manifesto by abolishing all oppressive laws and draconian legislative provisions, including Sosma and Poca, without further delay,” he added.