Hamzah told to forget about retabling Sosma

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Home minister Hamzah Zainudin has to address the fact that he does not have enough support within the government to retable the motion to extend a provision of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma), say opposition MPs.

They were commenting on Hamzah’s statement that he was looking into how the motion could be retabled after it was shot down in the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday.

Hamzah said he would be discussing this at the Cabinet meeting today.

Klang MP Charles Santiago said there was no support for the retabling of the motion, even within Umno, “which is why they did not come out to vote”.

“I think the minister has to recognise that he doesn’t have support within the government itself and he should just drop it,” he told FMT.

“Normally, once you lose the debate, you don’t bring it back again. I think there should be some respect for the way Parliament makes a decision.”

Santiago said people knew the Act was being abused even if the government insisted it was meant to prevent terrorism.

“How many terrorists have they caught so far? All we’ve heard about is the abuse,” he said.

On Wednesday, Hamzah tabled the motion to extend the enforcement of sub-section 4(5) of Sosma on the 28-day maximum detention period for another five years. It was defeated with 85 MPs voting in favour and 86 against. The remaining 49 MPs were absent.

Subang MP Wong Chen said it was going to be difficult for Hamzah to get the approval of the Cabinet to retable the motion.

“This is going to be very hard to achieve after the defeat.

“That being the case, I think this is just empty talk to distract from the fact that he should instead be tendering his resignation for the defeat,” he told FMT.

Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto hoped the government would introduce a motion to abolish Sosma instead of retabling the provision.

“Of course, if retabling means removing some provisions of the Bill first and then taking steps to abolish it, it would be welcomed,” she said.

“However, my opinion is that Sosma should be abolished because it is redundant, it usurps the powers of courts, and it can be arbitrarily used on anyone and everyone at any time for any reason that is justifiable by the enforcement officers.”

She said there were sufficient provisions in the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) to address legitimate concerns such as gangsterism, organised crime and triad activities. There was also the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 to check terror activities.

Human rights NGO Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) executive director Sevan Doraisamy said Hamzah should realise that it was clear that Sosma was problematic, especially the 28-day detention provision.

“The home minister should look into a more holistic way of addressing this. He should engage with stakeholders, especially civil society organisations to see why it’s problematic, why 28 days of detention is excessive.

Faihan Ghani/The Star

“There are so many instances where we have recorded abuses in these 28 days,” he said.

He said Hamzah should concentrate on many “other pressing issues” at hand.

Meanwhile, the Sosma motion may not be retabled this year due to Parliamentary Standing Orders, says lawyer Andrew Khoo.

The co-chair of the Bar Council Constitutional Law Committee said this was due to Standing Order 36 (3) which states that a matter that has been decided cannot be reconsidered by the House within the same session.

“Unless there is a substantive motion for rescission, it cannot be reconsidered. So, they can try again next year.

“But, by next year, the five-year period would have lapsed,” Khoo told The Star.

The five-year limit of the provision to detain suspects up to 28 days ends on July 31 this year.

The fifth session of the 14th Parliament has three meetings, the first began on Feb 28 recently and ended on Thursday (March 24) after sitting for 16 days.

The second meeting will run for 12 days from July 18 to Aug 4 and the third meeting will sit for 31 days from Oct 26 to Dec 15.

Khoo also said that when the Act was enacted in 2012, the Bar Council had said that the 28-day detention period should be shortened.

“So, the sunset clause was written in, to review it every five years,” Khoo said.

“The question is whether, if the government tried to introduce a motion to change it from 28 days to 21 or 14 or even seven days, would that be seen as being substantially different?” Khoo said.

The provision for the 28-day detention without trial has to be extended every five years and it was last extended in 2017.

Earlier, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin expressed his disappointment and frustration with government MPs who were absent during the bloc voting process in the Dewan Rakyat, which led to the motion that he tabled to be defeated.

“Of course, I was not very happy. Some of them were already in the Dewan. I can name them. And they just left when it’s time to vote. That’s not fair,” he said.

Ahmad Zamzahuri

Asked why he thought some of the government lawmakers left the House during the voting process, he said curtly: “Because they hate my face”.

He then chided Opposition lawmakers who religiously preached love and loyalty for the country but went against the extension of Sosma motion.

He claimed that a lot of organised crime was in place after the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960 was repealed in 2012.

“So, at that time we thought the important instrument must be there and we compromised. We only put 28 days and I think 28 days is quite compromising for all parties,” he added, referring to the Sosma Act that allows a suspect to be detained for 28 days without trial.

He said that it is not necessary to sit with the Opposition in a table to discuss an extension of a motion because the MoU does not demand something like that.

“Because the Opposition said we should have engaged them but the story is actually simple, we are not making a new law.

“We are just trying to extend a law that is already in place and needs an extension due before its expiry date on July 31,” he said.

Two days ago, Hamzah said that those who went against the extension of the motion wish to make room for criminals and terrorists to dominate the country.

The remarks came after the Dewan Rakyat failed to extend the effective period of sub-section 4 (5) of Sosma for another five years.

The motion was rejected after the result of a bloc vote where 85 MPs supported its extension versus 86 MPs who did not. Meanwhile, 49 MPs were not present.

Earlier reports:

Mar 24, Anthony Loke: Don’t blame opposition for defeat of Sosma motion

Mar 23, Dewan Rakyat rejects motion to extend ‘detention without trial’ clause in Sosma