PETALING JAYA: A rights group has called for Saifuddin Nasution Ismail to be removed as home minister, saying Malaysia needs a home minister who respects human rights and would uphold justice.
Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet) cited how Saifuddin reportedly said 401 people had been “punished” under the controversial Security Offences (Special Measures) Act, or Sosma, in 2022.
Saifuddin had also said that out of the total of 624 people detained under Sosma last year, 140 were released, 71 were charged in court, and 12 were still being investigated.
Madpet spokesman Charles Hector said the law cannot be used to punish anyone unless they were charged, given a trial, found guilty by the courts and meted a sentence.
“The sentence is the only punishment permissible by law. Arrest and pre-conviction detention should never be abused to punish anyone.
“Sosma is not a detention-without-trial law. Post-arrest detentions without trial is only for the purpose of investigations, nothing else. Police cannot use detention, even under Sosma, for the purpose of ‘punishing’ anyone,” he said in a statement.
Hector also repeated calls for Sosma to be abolished, despite Saifuddin’s insistence that it was still needed though its repeal was part of Pakatan Harapan’s election manifesto.
He said there were other existing laws the police could use, as Sosma allowed the police to detain a person for up to 28 days without requiring a magistrate’s order. He also said this was unconstitutional.
“Sadly, our current home minister and government fail to understand the need for the immediate repeal of Sosma despite the calls of the Malaysian Bar, Suhakam, civil society and justice-loving Malaysians.
“Saifuddin, the PKR and PH secretary-general, may be a good MP and politician but, to Madpet, he does not qualify to remain the home minister.
“Madpet calls on the minister to resign or, alternatively, on Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to remove him as home minister or from the Cabinet as a whole.”
In December, Saifuddin said a review of Sosma was not needed as the law was necessary to tackle organised crime-related cases. He also said Sosma allowed the court process to take place.
That same month, Saifuddin’s deputy, Ramkarpal Singh, said the minister agreed to hold engagements with stakeholders on Sosma.
While Saifuddin confirmed in January that engagements on the controversial law were ongoing, he later reiterated that Sosma was still necessary to safeguard the nation’s security and peace.