KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 14 – Putrajaya will turn to a seldom-used but still applicable law that lets authorities hold crime suspects for over a month, while it studies the possibility of resurrecting broad powers to detain individuals without trial.
Minister in the Prime Minster’s Department Datuk Paul Low (picture) said the government will dust off the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 soon, to counter gangland and underworld syndicate-linked serious crimes that are currently on the rise.
“We are looking at existing laws such as the [Prevention of Crime Act] and how best to use them effectively to deal with the rise in crime,” he told The Star daily.
The former Transparency International Malaysia chief said the use of the law comes in light of the absence of preventive laws specifically meant to deal with secret society members.
The law, applicable in peninsula Malaysia, allows suspected gang members to be detained without a warrant for 14 days and an additional 28 days if required for further investigations.
Inquiry officers outside of the police force will be appointed by the home minister during this time to determine if there are grounds for the suspects’ detention.
The inquiry reports would then be forwarded to the minister for endorsement with the remanded suspects having the right to appeal against their detention orders.
The law applied to all members of unlawful societies such as gangs and triads, persons who belong to any groups of five or more for the purposes that include the commission of offences involving violence or extortion.
The list of people possibly detained under the law also include human and traffickers as well as those involved in illegal gambling syndicates.
Low later insisted the study on preventive laws was not indicative of their definite return, despite the recent clamour by authorities following a jump in gun-related incidents and violent crimes.
“Nothing has been finalised yet.
“For the time being, we are looking at existing laws such as [Prevention of Crime Act] and Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (SOSMA) 2012 to see how these can be effectively enforced by the police,” he said.
During the weekend, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi made another pitch in Utusan Malaysia for the return of powers to detain individuals without trial, claiming the 2011 repeal of the Emergency Ordinance has unleashed an army of criminals on Malaysia.
“According to the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM), from the 2,600 released, they have at least 10 right-hand men, meaning there are 26,000 with the society,” he was quoted as saying by Mingguan Malaysia, the weekend edition of Utusan Malaysia.
“These right-hand men also have at least 10 of their own right-hand men, meaning there’s 266,000 people,” Zahid said.
Opposition lawmakers shortly after pressed Zahid to provide data to justify his claims, labelling the figure as a gross exaggeration.