One of the most shocking amendments proposed is to restrict bail for ALL offences under Section 124 of the Penal Code.
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) is appalled by the proposed amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) that threatened to undermine fundamental rights enshrined in the Federal Constitution and strongly condemns the attempt to restrict human rights and the malicious intent to devastate the ever-shrinking democratic space.
The proposed amendments to the CPC that will be tabled in the upcoming Parliament session in May 2016 include a shocking amendment that would restrict bail for ALL offences under Section 124 of the Penal Code. Section 124 has been invoked countless times over 2015 against civil activists and politicians during the #KitaLawan rallies and subsequently invoked against media such as the Malaysian Insider earlier this year.
Reflecting on the unjustifiable definition of public order and national security by the government in 2015 and the arrests and investigation of civil activists, politicians and journalists under Section 124 of the Penal Code, it is evident that the government has chosen to crackdown against dissenters through Section 124.
The amendments to the CPC and the denial of bail for offences under Section 124 would greatly strengthen the ‘bite’ of Section 124 and grant the government power to imprison, punish and silent dissenters.
If the amendment to the CPC is allowed to pass, the farcical detention of Khairuddin Abu Bakar and Matthias Chang would no longer be an exception. It is likely that such detentions would become the norm with the denial of bail for those charged under Section 124 of the Penal Code. As such, it would not be wrong for us to consider the amendment of the CPC to be no more than an attempt to revive powers akin to those granted by the Internal Security Act 1960.
Suaram calls on the government to retract the introduction of this ludicrous amendment and cease its blatant attempt to stifle civil liberties and human rights in Malaysia. Failure to put an end to this obtuse move would only put Malaysia one step closer to becoming a failed state and make it a laughing stock among our international peers.
Sevan Doraisamy is executive director of Suaram.