KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 16, 2015:

Strengthening laws or introducing stronger ones with a view that you can fight terrorism may not be the best way to address terrorism, said Akademi Belia chairman Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

Saifuddin, a former Umno politician who defected to PKR yesterday, said this was because it was proven, in the context of the Internal Security Act 1960, that such laws were not effective in the past.

“ISA can allow the detention of people who returned from Afghanistan to be rehabilitated, including by those from the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) or those appointed by them,

“But there was one case where a former detainee had gone to to Syria, presumably to join the Islamic State, after he was released (from ISA detention),” he told a forum on Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma), at the The Kuala Lumpur And Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall here yesterday evening.

Saifuddin said many European terrorism specialists had postulated that several groups in society were inadvertently radicalised when government strengthened laws as they considered them to be draconian or authoritarian.

“That is why in Australia and the United States, although they have laws such as the Patriot Act, they are also engaging civil society groups and religious leaders (to tell them) to come forward as that is more effective than using laws by themselves,

“But what happens is that when many governments are faced with terrorists and terrorism, they either introduce a new law or strengthen an old law, but this is not necessarily the most effective way (to deal with them),” he said.

The former Deputy Higher Education Minister said he supported Sosma as it was directed at terrorism alone and not towards political dissidents.

He also reiterated his stance that the law was misused against former Umno Batu Kawan deputy division chief Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan and his lawyer, Matthias Chang, who were detained under the act before being charged for sabotage.

The forum was organised by Human Rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram).

Present were prominent lawyers Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, Syahredzan Johan and Farida Mohd, with Suaram coordinator Syukri Razab serving as the moderator.

Saifuddin also lamented that he faced challenges in attempting to abolish laws such as the Sedition Act (1948) when he was in government.

“We once had a discourse on the abolition which the Prime Minister also supported before he made a U-turn on the decision, but then we had individuals (in government) who not only disagreed with doing away with the law, but wanted to reintroduce the ISA.

“It was hard to ‘brain’ their argument.”

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