KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26, 2015:

There is no need to introduce new preventive detention laws in Malaysia as current laws are “powerful and harsh” enough to combat terrorism threats.

PKR lawmaker and lawyer N. Surendran said the government’s recent proposal to include provisions of the repealed Internal Security Act (ISA) in a new law, showed that the government was determined to use the global terrorist threat as an excuse to reintroduce detention without trial.

“This will be an utter betrayal of the rakyat who were led to believe by the BN prior to the 13th General Election that Malaysia would be rid of preventive detention laws with the repeal of the ISA.

“Existing laws such as Sosma 2012 (Security Offences [Special Measures] Act) are more than adequate to deal with any potential terrorist threat,” the Padang Serai Member of Parliament said in a statement today.

By comparison, he added, Sosma’s detention of terror suspects for up to 28 days, was even greater than provisions in legislation in countries where terrorism threats were greater, such as the United States, Australia or United Kingdom.

“In the UK, the Terrorism Act 2006 only permits detention up to 14 days. Similarly, in Australia, state and commonwealth laws only allow up to 14 days detention in terrorism cases.

“In the US, no citizen can be detained beyond 48 hours for any terrorism related offence,” explained Surendran.

He said it was “disgraceful” that Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar and other Barisan Nasional leaders repeatedly used the recent attacks in Paris to pass new laws that could threaten civil liberties of Malaysians.

“Why is BN rushing to bring in harsher laws when they are not required to tackle terrorism? What is the BN’s real agenda?” questioned Surendran.

Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen said the solution to counter terrorism did not lie in the revival of laws akin to the ISA, but in finding the root causes of extremism.

Paulsen said authorities needed to also find out why there was an increasing number of Malaysians who were travelling to Iraq and Syria to fight alongside Islamic State and other militant groups.

“Further, the government should restructure the Special Branch and other internal security apparatus to target genuine security threats, instead of being misused for political ends against legitimate dissent and the Opposition,” he said in a statement today.

Wan Junaidi reportedly said that Putrajaya was mulling the incorporation of ISA’s provisions into a new anti-terrorism bill that would be tabled at the next Parliament session in March.

This, he said, was necessary to curb terrorist activities in the country, in the wake of terrorism threats posed by the Islamic State.

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