KUALA LUMPUR: The families of 12 people detained last month under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (2012) for alleged links to separatist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) today took their pleas for the act to be scrapped to the Parliament building.
Umah Devi Veeraputhran, the wife of Melaka exco member and Gadek assemblyman G Saminathan, said the use of the act, better known as Sosma, was clearly against the reforms promised by the Pakatan Harapan government in its election manifesto.
Saminathan was arrested along with Seremban Jaya assemblyman P Gunasekaran and 10 others – V Balamurugan, S Teeran, A Kalaimughilan, S Chandru, S Arivainthan, S Thanagaraj, M Pumugan, Sundram Renggan @ Rengasamy, V Suresh Kumar and B Subramaniam.
The 12 men were accused of committing various offences related to sympathising with the LTTE cause between March 17, 2014 and Oct 11 this year.
Gunasekaran and Saminathan claimed trial to charges of terrorism under Section 130 of the Penal Code some three weeks after their arrest.
In a memorandum to the prime minister, Umah, 31, said the detention of the DAP assemblymen was “disappointing” as they had both contributed to PH’s victory in last year’s general election.
“Secondly, there is no need to use Sosma, which is such a cruel act,” she told reporters. “Even if they are guilty, why use Sosma?”
Adding that neither had been offered bail, she said it had been 42 days since they were arrested.
Sosma allows for individuals to be detained for up to 28 days without trial.
Umah, a housewife who also cares for her elderly parents, said her family was suffering financially without Saminathan.
“We need our head of the family back as soon as possible. Forty-two days without him – this is too critical,” she said.
Umah and her family were among some 80 relatives and friends of the detainees who gathered outside the Parliament building in a peaceful demonstration against Sosma.
The memorandum was received there by Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo. It was also received by the special officer of de facto law minister Liew Vui Keong after about 30 of the friends and family members entered Parliament building.
Lawyer Ramkarpal Singh, who was also present at the handover of the memorandum, said he hoped the government would finally amend some of the provisions in Sosma such as the denial of bail.
“It is wrong to completely deny bail for people who are not even convicted,” he said.
“Even if they are acquitted and they win the case, they could still be remanded until the appeal process is over. That could take years.”
Responding to the protest, de facto law minister Liew Vui Keong said the home ministry had already looked into some of the proposed amendments to Sosma.
He told reporters at the Parliament lobby that security laws are still needed in the country.
“We may have issues with our security if we are not careful.
“We are looking into reviewing the arrest provision and the period which is 28 days at the moment. We are going to review that, also to give access to legal counsel for those who have been detained.”
He added however that certain engagements must be held with stakeholders.
“So at the moment, I cannot say much because this is under the purview of the home ministry.”