Ex-IGP: So-Called ‘Oppressive’ Laws Needed to Fight Crime and Terrorism

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Musa’s case for Sosma.

What happened after the abolition of the Internal Security Act (ISA) should serve as a lesson to the government today as it considers repealing preventive detention laws such as Sosma, Poca and Pota, said former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan.

In an interview with Bernama, he alleged that the repeal of the ISA and Emergency Ordinance (EC) led to “a significant rise in serious crime cases, particularly involving gangs of secret societies fighting for their areas of control.”

Sazali Che Din/Utusan

On July 22, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government would abolish laws that oppress the people, specifically the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).

For Musa, there was a need to have strict preventive laws to protect the country and people, thus restricting the movement of extremist groups, militant groups and organised crime groups today.

He cited the intrusion in Lahad Datu, Sabah by a group from Mindanao in 2013 as a lesson that threats to national sovereignty could occur at any time and should be contained from the start.

The crisis that saw nine security personnel and 54 terrorists killed, and about 100 people detained, could not have been easily handled if the country did not have special laws like Sosma, he said.

Musa stressed that laws to curb security threats were very important to a country like Malaysia that has a multiracial and religious community.

Commenting on claims that Sosma was affecting human rights, he said that was not true because those arrested under this law were entitled to defend themselves.

Under Sosma, a police officer may, without a warrant, arrest and detain a suspect for only 24 hours and extend it to not more than 28 days to facilitate investigations.

When the investigation has been conducted and there is evidence of the case, then the person arrested should be charged in court. If there is no proof, the detained person can be released.

Family members should be informed if a suspect is detained, and the suspect is allowed to consult his lawyer for his defence.

Under Sosma, a detainee still has the chance to defend himself, unlike the Patriot Act in the United States where terrorists arrested around the world, including two Malaysians allegedly involved in the Al-Qaeda movement, were detained without the opportunity to defend themselves at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Centre.

He said Sosma also reduced cases, among others, such as gangsterism, gambling and prostitution in which the police took preventive measures before such activities became widespread.

Musa stressed that Sosma played a crucial role in safeguarding the sovereignty of the King and Malay Rulers as well as the interests of the people that might be threatened by racial and religious riots.

The Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960 was repealed on July 31, 2012, and replaced with Sosma which was passed by the Dewan Rakyat on April 17, 2012.