SHAH ALAM, Jan 19 — Stricter laws to curtail extremism will only work to fuel the rising threat, according to a PAS lawmaker who said ensuring freedom and democracy were the only ways to combat the menace.
PAS’s Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad claimed that young Malaysians were taking up arms alongside the Islamic State in Syria because they were let down by flawed democratic processes such as those that led to the overthrow of the Egyptian government.
“The growth in extremism is because of the fact that the democratic rights of the Islamic movement have been denied.
“That means the West and Muslim governments must allow democracy to grow and its processes implemented well so that young Muslims who have the ambition in political Islam will continue to use democratic channels,” he told reporters at his office here.
The Shah Alam MP stressed that “undemocratic” laws such as the abolished Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) and others that may resurrect its powers were not the way to address growing extremism here.
Putrajaya will table in March an anti-terrorism law mooted to address the menace of the IS, which is expected to contain preventive detention powers.
“So all these talk about implementing the anti-terrorism law, it may be counterproductive because it will continue giving the impression that Islamic and western governments do not want to give the democratic rights to Muslims,” he said.
In the White Paper tabled last year in Parliament on the IS, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak outlined the history of the 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 violent practices to spread in Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country.
The White Paper also recommended a new anti-terrorism law to address the menace. Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi later confirmed the law will include preventive detention.
The proposed law is in addition to the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, enacted to maintain public order and security after the abolition of the ISA.