Selangor DAP chairman Gobind Singh Deo has criticised Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail’s attempted justification of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act or Sosma yesterday, calling it “at odds” with Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) position on the matter.
Joining other critics such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from earlier today, Gobind urged Saifuddin to reconsider his position and asked him to review and make “the necessary changes” to Sosma.
“Whilst we accept that there is a need for laws to deal with the security of the nation, we cannot deny the fact that Sosma is oppressive in nature,” he said in a statement today.
“In fact, in October 2019, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim himself is reported to have said that certain parts of Sosma should be amended and improved for the benefit of all parties, as the law has been deemed ‘too harsh’,” he added.
Gobind went on to list several issues with Sosma, including Section 4 of the Act, which allowed the police to detain a person up to 28 days without trial.
“There is therefore no check and balance on the powers of the investigating authorities during this period of time.
“This allows for abuse not only in point of wrongful arrests but also during the course of investigations which must not be allowed,” he said.
Another issue that Gobind pointed out was Section 30 of the Sosma, which provided for prosecutors to seek to further detain an accused person even after his acquittal in the event the event of an appeal.
“It is important to note that cases of this nature take years in court.
“The trial and appeals process is lengthy, which means that an accused in a case like this would be held in custody for indefinite periods of time even after an acquittal which is certainly harsh and oppressive,” he said.
Yesterday, when asked by reporters if the new government would review the Sosma, Saifuddin defended it by saying it allowed judicial oversight unlike preventive detention laws such as the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the Emergency Ordinance.
This is despite PH MPs voting against a motion brought by the previous home minister to extend the effective period of Section 4(5) of Sosma for another five years, in Parliament on March 23 — although the motion was passed later in July with the agreement of 111 MPs.
Since Saifuddin’s statement yesterday, two NGOs have voiced their dissatisfaction with his stance, namely, Lawyers for Liberty and Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet).
Former Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah also was quoted by Malaysiakini as saying that the home minister had “forgotten” that Section 30 of the Act allows a detainee to be kept in prison until all court trials and appeals are completed — leaving some prisoners detained for more than a decade. – MMO