GEORGE TOWN: The High Court yesterday dismissed a motion to grant bail brought by six men accused of running a Malaysian citizenship racket for Chinese nationals.
The six men had filed individual motions asking for bail, arguing among others that their charges under anti-smuggling laws do not constitute a security offence.
They were initially detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma), which allows detention without trial for 28 days.
They pleaded not guilty on Oct 3 while their lawyers filed a motion to challenge their arrests under Sosma on Oct 10.
The lawyers cited Section 388 (1) of the Penal Code in arguing that a person accused of a non-bailable offence may be released on bail.
However, justice Akhtar Tahir dismissed the motion, saying Sosma is not just for terrorism cases.
“I do not agree with the defence counsels that there is any form of ambiguity in this case. The court cannot make new laws. I also cannot accept the arguments of the defence counsels that Sosma is intended for terrorism cases.
“No bail will be granted in this case unless they fall under the exceptions (provided under Sosma),” he said.
He also maintained the dates for the five-day trial which begins on April 6 next year.
Lawyer Sivahnanthan Ragava who is representing Lai Chin Wah, one of the accused, said he had been instructed to pursue an appeal against the motion.
Lai, 56, was charged alongside Penang National Registration Department assistant director Mohd Faizul Arifin, 34; Mohd Faizal Tan Abdullah, 66; Yap Cheng Wah, 43; Loh Chan Cheong, 34; and Chien Guan Chai, 36.
They face a total of 32 charges under Section 26E of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007.
The offence carries a maximum jail term of 15 years or a maximum fine of RM500,000 upon conviction.
The six men were also charged under Section 25(1)(i) of the National Registration Regulations 1990, which provides for a jail term of not more than three years, a fine of not more than RM20,000, or both, upon conviction.