KL passes anti-terror legislation
MALAYSIA'S lawmakers passed an anti-terrorism Bill yesterday, after more than 10 hours of heated debate over a law that re-introduces detention without trial, three years after it was revoked.
Barisan Nasional (BN) backbenchers defended the necessity of preventive measures to deal with the "extraordinary" threats posed by terror entities such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Opposition lawmakers, however, argued that some provisions in the Bill were against human rights and civil liberties.
They also proposed several amendments to the legislation - under which individuals can be detained for up to two years, with two-year extensions thereafter - but it was voted through unchanged at 2am.
The new law permits the police to arrest and detain individuals suspected of terrorist activities, with decisions for extension of detention made by a Prevention of Terrorism Board. The law skips the judiciary, disallowing the courts from having jurisdiction over decisions made by the board.
Malaysia last had detention without trial under the Internal Security Act, which was repealed in 2012 by Prime Minister Najib Razak under his reform agenda.
Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Tunku Jaafar told reporters that the recent arrests of 17 Malaysians, who had been planning terror strikes in the country, showed that the law was needed.
Azalina Othman from BN said during the debate that there was no such thing as "absolute freedom" and stressed that the law had enough provisions to safeguard the rights of everyone.
But opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat's N. Surendran questioned the need for a two-year detention period without trial, as countries facing bigger threats such as Britain and the United States had shorter detention periods.
Wrapping up the debate, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi assured lawmakers that human rights and civil liberties would not be jeopardised, and stressed that the law was preventive in nature.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, REUTERS