Khairuddin Abu Hassan must be immediately released and human rights abuses by the authorities must stop, says Ambiga Sreenevasan.
On 24 September 2015, former Umno leader Khairuddin Abu Hassan was arrested under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).
Khairuddin was arrested allegedly over reports which were lodged with investigators abroad against 1MDB. He was first arrested and remanded on 18 September 2015 under section 124C of the Penal Code, on alleged activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy. Upon his release, he was rearrested under Sosma.
Khairuddin is now detained for investigations under section 124K and 124L of the Penal Code, allegedly for offences of “sabotage” or “attempting to sabotage the State”.
Hakam stands with the Bar Council and many other civil society organisations and all right-thinking Malaysians in condemning these actions as being oppressive and contrary to the rule of law. Sosma is in itself an authoritarian and oppressive piece of legislation that is now being abused to protect a prime minister (who ought to be accountable to the people) from scrutiny.
In stark contrast a member, of the public who threatens a riot in Petaling Street is treated with kid gloves and faces no police action. This underscores the gross abuse of power and the political nature of these enforcement actions.
Sosma is meant for security offences that are “prejudicial to public order in, or the security of the Federation or any part thereof”. How are Khairuddin’s actions in filing reports overseas in respect of 1MDB, prejudicial to the security of the nation? They may make some people uncomfortable but that is no basis for an arrest.
Moreover, Khairuddin will be clearly exempt under Section 4(3) of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 [Sosma] which states “No person shall be arrested and detained under this section solely for his political belief or political activity.”
Political belief or activity is defined under Section 4(12) paragraphs (b) and (c) respectively as, “the expression of an opinion directed towards any Government in the Federation” and “the pursuit of a course of action directed towards any Government in the Federation.” In our view therefore, the arrest of Khairuddin is unlawful even within the scope of Sosma.
This incident is one in a series of arbitrary measures taken by the powers that be to protect the prime minister from having to answer to the people.
Enforcement agencies must decide if their role is to serve the rakyat or to protect leaders from answering for their deeds or misdeeds. The choice is clear.
Khairuddin must be immediately released and human rights abuses by the authorities must stop. Let some semblance of sanity, fair play and respect for the rule of law return immediately to the administration of this nation.
We now read reports that Khairuddin was rushed to hospital with a high fever. However, no one is allowed access to him. Hakam urges the authorities to allow the family immediate access to him.
We reiterate our demand that he be released immediately.
Ambiga Sreenevasan is president of Hakam.