PETALING JAYA: An opposition MP who had been previously detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) has renewed calls to abolish the controversial law in the wake of plans to extend one of its provisions.
PKR’s Maria Chin Abdullah said the act, which critics have described as draconian, should be repealed as the existing laws were sufficient to address offences under Sosma.
“We cannot have a blanket extension of Sosma as there are many parts that undermine fundamental rights of all detainees,” she said in a statement.
The Petaling Jaya MP was responding to the proposal by home minister Hamzah Zainudin to extend the provision on the maximum 28-day detention period for another five years, as listed in the Dewan Rakyat’s Order Paper.
He proposed that the lower house move to resolve “that pursuant to sub-section 4(11), of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 to extend the enforcement sub-section 4(5) of this Act for another five years beginning from July 31, 2022”.
Sub-section 4(5) of Sosma provides power to the police to detain a person suspected of being involved in terrorist activities for a period not exceeding 28 days for investigations.
Sub-section 4(11), meanwhile, states that sub-section 4(5) shall be reviewed every five years and shall cease to have effect when approved by both the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara not to extend it.
Maria said that under Sosma, certain offences under the Penal Code were categorised as security offences, for which different rules of evidence and trial procedures apply.
“For instance, Sosma denies fair trial and bail for detainees. Even after a suspect has been acquitted, the public prosecutor can apply under the act for the accused to remain detained pending an appeal. As a result, we have detainees still in jail with no trial in sight.”
She also noted other issues with the act, including concealment of witnesses from the accused and their counsel and a provision that any statement by an accused whether orally or in writing to any person at any time is admissible as evidence, regardless of whether it is obtained under duress or otherwise.
In November 2016, the former Bersih 2.0 chairperson was detained under Sosma for 10 days on the eve of the Bersih 5.0 rally.
Maria also said that tabling and suggesting an extension of the Sosma provision was a complete travesty of justice.
“The home minister’s action is regressive, oppressive and meant to silence dissent. All MPs must reject this resolution and demand for Sosma to be abolished.”
In April 2017, Sosma was extended for five years by the Dewan Negara after it was unanimously agreed upon by Senate members.