Liew Vui Keong said Putrajaya seeks to review, not repeal Sosma, while NGOs and MPs said best to do away with “mostly Draconian” act.
Pakatan Harapan must keep its promise to repeal the draconian provisions under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma), says DAP Bukit Gelugor lawmaker Ramkarpal Singh.
He said the Pakatan government could not just sit back quietly after it promised the people to abolish the law in its election manifesto.
“The Tanjung Piai by-election is a lesson to Pakatan that the people are the ones who judge.
“Do not break your promises. You make promises and uphold them,” he told reporters during a protest outside Parliament with family members of those who were detained under Sosma over alleged links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Ramkarpal was present along with several other DAP leaders, including Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang.
The family members submitted a memorandum to the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat.
Ramkarpal said hoped that the government would take the memorandum seriously.
The memorandum called for the abolishment of Sosma and the immediate release of those detained under the law.
Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo, who was present at the protest, said he would bring the matter up with the Cabinet.
“I was told that an announcement would be made soon, but I will leave it to the relevant ministry,” he said.
Meanwhile, Liew Vui Keong said Putrajaya seeks to review, not repeal Sosma.
“We are looking into reviewing the arrest provision’s (detention without trial) period of 28 days, and giving detainees access to legal counsel,” the de facto law minister told reporters at the Parliament lobby today.
“But like it or not, we still need security laws in the country… We will have issues with security if we are not careful.”
Pakatan Harapan promised to look into certain provisions of the law, and this is being done, he said.
“I, too, was involved in the committee, together with the Home Ministry.
“The plan is to have it done as quickly as we can, but we need to conduct engagements with the various stakeholders first.
“I can’t say more, as this is under the purview of the home minister.”
Yesterday, several NGOs and lawmakers reiterated their calls to completely abolish Sosma as most of the act is considered “draconian”.
This would be better than the government’s suggestion to review certain provisions to make it less draconian, they said.
“This government promised that it will accord the rule of law when drafting legislation, but Sosma is against the rule of law because it does not give basic protection to those arrested and instead takes away their rights.
“We are not saying that we don’t want security laws. We must have security laws, but they must be fair security laws.
“All that we are asking for is security legislation which allows the judiciary to have control over the process and where everyone has to report to the judiciary,” said National Human Rights Society president Ambiga Sreenevasan in a press conference in Parliament yesterday.
Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy also said that they are disappointed with Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s statement saying that Sosma was still needed to combat terrorist activities.
“There are many other countries facing bigger terrorism threats than Malaysia, and they handle these without using draconian acts which block judicial oversight during remands and important due process for the accused.
“We are also disappointed a year after we handed over our memorandum to abolish Sosma, the act was used to arrest at least 12 individuals allegedly linked to the now-defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE),” he said.
Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah, who was detained under Sosma for 10 days in 2016, reminded that many Pakatan Harapan ministers and MPs were once detained without trial.
“Let’s not forget that. We have a moral obligation to not allow detention without trial to continue,” she said.
Last month, 12 individuals were arrested under Sosma over charges of purported links to LTTE, including several state assemblypersons from DAP and PKR.