Anti-crime amendments ‘draconian’, like the ISA, DAP says

DAP sec-gen Lim Guan Eng says PM Najib Razak broke his promise for national reconciliatiion.
DAP sec-gen Lim Guan Eng says PM Najib Razak broke his promise for national reconciliatiion.

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 — Putrajaya’s amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act (PCA) 1959 appears to suggest a return to the era of the repealed Internal Security Act (ISA), a controversial law that allowed detention without trial, the DAP said today.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng accused Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak of breaking his promise for national reconciliation, saying that “instead, he gave us national retaliation”.

“It seems to be like the ISA,” DAP chairman Karpal Singh told reporters after a hearing at the High Court here today.

“We’re looking into it. Some of the provisions seem very draconian,” added the senior lawyer.

Lim, who was with Karpal at the press conference, accused Najib of trying to “divide the people”.

“When you look at the new PCA, it’s the EO again, all but in name,” said the Penang chief minister.

Lim was referring to the Emergency Ordinance, another security law - which also allows for detention without trial - that had been abolished together with the ISA in 2011.

The ISA is a colonial era security law that critics say was abused by the government to silence dissent.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi tabled a Bill earlier today to amend the PCA to incorporate preventive detention powers in an apparent bid to crack down on the criminal underworld, after a recent string of shootings and violent crime.

A proposed clause in the Bill allows individuals to be detained for up to two years without trial, up from the current 72 days.

At the end of the two-year period, the order can be renewed for a further two years out of necessity to ensure public order, public security or to prevent crime.

Civil liberties lawyer Syahredzan Johan also noted earlier today that the Bill includes an ouster clause that could prevent judicial reviews for detention orders on grounds of merit, allowing instead reviews only on procedural grounds.

DAP national legal bureau chairman Gobind Singh Deo said at the press conference with his colleagues today that opposition pact Pakatan Rakyat (PR) would not support amendments that allow detention without trial.

“Political parties were not consulted,” Gobind complained.

The Bill also seeks to make it compulsory for suspects on conditional release to be attached with an electronic monitoring device, a new measure introduced by Putrajaya last month.

Zahid, however, said earlier today that opposition MPs were free to give their opinions on the Bill when it goes for the second reading on Monday.

He also called the proposed amendments of the CPA a “form of transformation”, insisting that they were not “draconian”, and nor did they signal the return of the EO or the ISA.

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