Keep your election pledge and abolish draconian laws immediately, Bar tells Putrajaya

People hold posters in protest against the continued existence of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 in Kuala Lumpur October 24, 2018. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
People hold posters in protest against the continued existence of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 in Kuala Lumpur October 24, 2018. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 6 — The Malaysian Bar has urged Pakatan Harapan (PH) to keep its election manifesto promise to abolish all oppressive and draconian laws, including the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) and Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (Poca).

In a statement late last night, the Bar said it was astounded by Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s recent remark defending Sosma, Poca and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota).

“There are sufficient laws to address the threats of crime and terrorism without the government resorting to Sosma and Poca, or any other authoritarian laws,” its president George Varughese said.

“If need be, existing laws can be amended, or appropriate new laws enacted, to ensure that national security is not compromised. Public trust and confidence in the government must not be eroded. 

“The Malaysian Bar calls upon the government to demonstrate full commitment to its election manifesto, by abolishing all oppressive laws and draconian legislative provisions — including Sosma and Poca — without further delay,” he added.

In his winding-up speech during Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s (PPBM) annual assembly last weekend, Muhyiddin, who is also party president, said the government will retain Sosma on the grounds of national security, claiming the preventive detention law is necessary despite its shortcomings.

The Bar again insisted that the laws have been abused in the past and, as long as they remain in place, can still be abused by any government.

“In our resolve to defend and preserve the harmony, peace and security that Malaysia enjoys, it is essential that the government does not enjoy carte blanche to deprive persons of their constitutional rights and civil liberties with impunity,” it said.

“At all times, the rule of law must be abided by, human rights must be respected and protected, and principles of natural justice must apply. 

“Failing this, any assurances by the government in our ‘new Malaysia’ would serve only to impart a false sense of security, as it is undeniable that oppressive laws can be used — and misused — so long as they are not repealed,” it added.