Aliran is appalled at the manner in which the proposed amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (PCA) have been bulldozed through parliament.
Despite repeated calls from civil society groups including the Malaysian Bar, the Sabah Law Association, the Advocates Association of Sarawak, Suhakam, Proham, Lawyers for Liberty, Suaram and Aliran itself, to halt the reading of the bill, reconsider the amendments and have broader consultation, the government of the day has seen fit to push through undemocratic amendments.
At a time when the Prime Minister is addressing the world community in the United Nations and trying to convince them about his Global Movement of Moderates and when Malaysia is sitting in the UN Human Rights Council and trying to earn a place in the Security Council, it makes no sense to introduce such draconian and undemocratic amendments. Indeed, it makes a mockery of the progressive image Malaysia is trying to promote.
On 15 September 2011, the PM announced that the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969, the Banishment Act 1959 and the Internal Security Act 1960 would be repealed. We recall that he envisioned a Malaysia where “peace and public order are safeguarded in line with the supremacy of the Constitution, the rule of law and respect for basic human rights and individual rights”.
Only in August 2013, the PM, in response to demands from some quarters to reinstate preventive detention, reportedly said he would not reinstate the powers to detain individuals without trial that he had abolished. He clarified: “How do you arrest somebody if that person has not committed a crime? If it’s on a mere suspicion, it’s insufficient grounds to arrest somebody on the basis of preventive laws” (Malaysian Insider, 19 August 2013). He also made promises about consultation, good governance, and tackling corruption under his Government Transformation Programme (GTP) right up to GE13.
And yet at midnight of 2 October 2013, the parliamentary clock was stopped to allow the bulldozing in of the Bill – with any further opposition suggestions to amend the bill denied.
While we recognise the concern over crime in the country, the government’s rationale to eradicate crime through the PCA bill is totally unacceptable. Time and again there have been calls for the reform of enforcement agencies, for better policing and for more resources and professionalism in criminal investigation to fight crime. And yet these calls have been ignored.
The PCA in its new form will effectively open the flood gates to abuse by enforcement agency powers and allow the gross abuse of basic civil liberties of a person. What is the agenda behind this?
1) calls for a moratorium on the implementation of the PCA.
2) urges every individual to get involved in the fight for basic human rights
3) urges that civil society come together once again to work against preventive detention.
The Malaysian public are witnessing a regression of civil liberties despite promises to the contrary earlier. We had hoped that good sense would have prevailed in parliament. Once again it is up to the rakyat to protect the basic human rights of the nation.
Aliran Executive Committee
3 October 2013