Putrajaya confirms new anti-terrorism law will contain preventive element

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi says the new anti-terrorism law mooted by Putrajaya to curb the rise of terrorism will contain ‘preventive measures’. ― Picture by Choo Choy May
Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi says the new anti-terrorism law mooted by Putrajaya to curb the rise of terrorism will contain ‘preventive measures’. ― Picture by Choo Choy May

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 26 ― The new anti-terrorism law mooted by Putrajaya to stem the rise of terrorism in the country will contain “preventive measures”, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today.

The Home Minister pointed out that existing laws like the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) 2012 and the Prevention of Crime (Amendment and Extension) Act (Poca) 2013 only deal with terrorism after an act is committed.

“We currently have the Penal Code, Sosma, and Poca but the laws are to combat the problem after the act with no preventive measures.

“So the anti-terrorism Act will include preventive measures,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby.

He said the new law may use the same template as Poca where the power of detention lies in the hands of a crime prevention panel made up of five individuals, adding that there would be no need for concern over abuse of power by any minister.

Ahmad Zahid said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak feared that if preventive measures are not taken, the threat of IS and other militant groups will spread quickly in the Asean region.

He also stressed the urgency in having this law in effect and said there is the possibility of calling for a special Parliamentary session to pass the bill, “if needed”.

When asked to respond to fears of the return of the abolished draconian detention without trial law, the Internal Security Act (ISA), he said the concern is “baseless because our focus is to combat violence”.

During the debate of the White Paper however, Umno’s Datuk Seri Noh Omar said the new law should be a detention without trial law, much like the controversial ISA.

“We need a special law to counter terrorism. Many foreign countries have anti-terrorism act, like the US, UK, Australia and even Singapore has retained the ISA.

“The law should include detention without trial. Although we have Sosma, Poca, those are not enough to counter terrorism,” he said.

Ahmad Zahid said the ministry is working closely with Interpol where the international body shares its suspect lists and that it is also upgrading the country’s border security by having the Advance Passengers Screening System (APSS), the biometric system as well as some other elements to curb terrorist activities as well as entrance of illegal immigrants.

He said most of those who have returned and been detained “regretted” their involvement and claimed they were tricked into joining the fight.

For now, he said they were detained under Sosma for at least 28 days and will then be taken to court.

He also confirmed that the passports of those detained have been revoked.

The Home Ministry will be working with the Information, Communication and Culture Ministry, Rural and Regional Development Ministry and the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) to go to the ground and explain to the public the importance of this new law.

As for drafting the law, current anti-terrorism laws in six countries will be used as a guideline, he added.

Earlier today, the prime minister tabled a White Paper in Parliament titled “Addressing the threat of Islamic State”, where he outlined the history of IS, the threat the group poses and the impact it has on Malaysians as well as the danger in allowing its skewed Islamic teachings and practice of violence to spread in Malaysia.

The bill is expected to be debated during the next Parliamentary sitting in March next year. 

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