Calling for Law Commission, Malaysian Bar urges Putrajaya to abolish obsolete laws like Sosma, Sedition Act

Malaysian Bar secretary Salim Bashir Bhaskaran during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur March 16, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Malaysian Bar secretary Salim Bashir Bhaskaran during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur March 16, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4 — The Malaysian Bar has today called for the establishment of a Law Commission to review obsolete laws and sentencing procedures.

Its president Salim Bashir said the Bar Council is ready to be part of the Law Commission and will work with other stakeholders to provide its input.

“The Malaysian Bar therefore renews its call to the Government to abolish outdated and draconian laws so that we may safeguard the human rights and welfare of the people,” he said in a statement.

He reiterated the Malaysian Bar’s call on the government to abolish unjust and regressive laws such as the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) and the Sedition Act 1948 during the current Dewan Rakyat sitting.

He said these laws should be repealed as they do not reflect the society today while Article 5 of the Federal Constitution provides that a person’s life or personal liberty cannot be taken away unless it is in accordance with the law.  

“We have always been a vocal opponent of all forms of regressive laws that do not adhere to our constitution, as well as civil rights and liberties,” he said.

He added that drug abuse under Section 15 of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 should also be decriminalised.  

He pointed out that individuals arrested under Sosma shall not be granted bail and they can be detained up to 28 days without being brought before a magistrate, unlike the common remand period under the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).

“These laws absolutely run counter to the rule of law and the basic rights afforded under the Federal Constitution,” he said.

He said there are sufficient laws and mechanisms in place, such as the Penal Code and the CPC, that allow the enforcement authorities to combat crimes and maintain stability of the country.

“We must remember that judicial discretion in criminal cases cannot be ousted by legislation,”  

“The protection of our society can coexist harmoniously alongside laws that respect the due process afforded to accused individuals,” he said.

The Malaysian Bar’s calls for Sosma and the Sedition Act 1948 to be repealed came after several other rights groups renewed their calls for the act to be abolished.

Recently, Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), Bersih 2.0 and the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)  called for the colonial-era law to be repealed and an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) be established after Sungai Pelek assemblyman Ronnie Liu was arrested under the Sedition Act.

Police arrested Liu last week under the Sedition Act and the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998 for questioning over his October 21 Facebook post of pictures of protesters at an anti-government protest in Bangkok, Thailand, with the caption: “Now in Bangkok. They are saying No to the King”.

Early this week, Parti Amanah Negara vice-president Mujahid Yusof Rawa revealed that he was being investigated under the Sedition Act for questioning the appointment of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as the prime minister back in March.

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