PENANG deputy chief minister Prof P. Ramasamy is the latest to join the chorus of voices criticising Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail for defending the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA).
The DAP deputy chairman said there cannot be two views on SOSMA and that there is “no high principle” to sustain the law as it has been used to detain and oppress especially members of the working class.
Saifuddin, on Tuesday (Dec 13) indicated that the act would not be reviewed, stating that “the law allows the court process to take place”, adding that this was in contrast to the now-defunct Internal Security Act (ISA) which allowed for detention without trial, and the emergency ordinances (EO) which allowed for detention of up to 60 days.
Sub-section 4(5) of SOSMA enables the police to detain a person suspected of being involved in terrorist activities for a period not exceeding 28 days for investigations.
Saifuddin said that at the end of the 28 days, there will only be two recommendations for detainees “which is either to charge them in court or to free them”.
Citing Saifuddin’s response, Ramasamy said that there was no need for the newly-minted minister to compare SOSMA to the ISA or EO.
“It’s like telling the Malaysian public that being caned 28 times is a lot better than being caned 60 times,” the Perai assemblyman said.
“Saifuddin, by defending SOSMA, went against the long-standing view of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition that SOSMA must go sooner than later.
“In fact, he could have focused on the oppressive sections of SOSMA for a possible review in the near future. There was no need to please the police force by saying that SOSMA will not be subject to review.”
According to Ramasamy, Saifuddin – who has been in office for only a few weeks – could have asked for more time to examine SOSMA or the notorious sections before he could suggest a review.
“There was no need to brush aside the call for review just because he said that was based on his principle although I am not sure what was the principle behind the move to not review SOSMA,” he stressed.
“Under SOSMA, the initial detention might be 28 days, but detainees could be remanded for years before their cases are heard, and after being in remand for years, the charges might not stick in the court of law.
Ramasamy further pointed out that there are hundreds of detainees, detained under SOSMA, who are languishing in police lockups and prisons waiting for court hearing.
They might have to wait years before their cases are heard, and the worst part is that they might not be found guilty.
“Who is going to be responsible for their wrongful arrest and detention? Is the Government going to compensate them and their families for the wrongful detention?” he asked.
Ramasamy said unity government or not, PH – being the anchor coalition – must be firm on the need to abolish SOSMA.
“There is no two ways about it. Saifuddin, by suggesting the amendment of certain offensive sections of the dreaded SOSMA, might go a long way in reassuring those who voted for PH [that they made the right decision],” he noted. – Dec 16, 2022