Saifuddin faces backlash from PH members on SOSMA

HOME Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail indicated that he has no intention of reviewing the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (SOSMA), adding that it is not a preventive law unlike the defunct Internal Security Act (ISA) and emergency ordinances (EO). 

The stance taken by the Home Minister, a Pakatan Harapan (PH) MP, did not go down well with some of his colleagues who argued that the stance taken by Saifuddin is in demarcation from PH’s views. 

“This stance is at odds with the position taken by PH which has acknowledged that SOSMA is problematic and needs to be dealt with,” Damansara MP Gobind Singh Deo remarked. 

“Whilst we accept that there is a need for laws to deal with the security of the nation, we cannot deny the fact that SOSMA is oppressive in nature.” 

Gobind further noted in his missive on SOSMA that in October 2019, Anwar reportedly said that certain provisions on SOSMA should be changed and improved for the benefit of all parties as the law has been deemed “too harsh”.

He pointed out that the provisions that allow detention for up to 28 days without access to court deny justice to detainees as it does not allow check and balance on the powers of the investigating authorities during this time.  

“This allows for abuse not only in the point of wrongful arrests but also during investigations which must not be allowed,” he said. 

According to Gobind, this is the reason why PH had voted against the motion brought by the previous home minister (Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin) to extend section 4(5) of SOSMA in Parliament in March. 

“After an accused is charged, Section 13 relating to bail remains a problem. That section states bail shall not be granted to a person who has been charged with a security offence and limits bail to strict instances under subsection 2 for certain cases,” he said. 

“There have been concerns over the constitutionality of this provision as it restricts the powers of the court in granting bail.  

“This provision needs to be reviewed as well as what it does is to provide for the continued detention of a person pending trial even where the facts of the case would not otherwise support the need for such pretrial detention.” 

He also raised the question regarding section 30 of SOSMA which permits an application by the Public Prosecutor to remand an accused person who has been acquitted after a trial where there is an appeal. This allows for detention pending appeal. 

“We in PH have been consistent in our call for change. When faced with legislation oppressive in nature, discussions must be held and points of view taken moving ahead in line with our push for reforms,” Gobind added in urging Saifuddin to reconsider his position on SOSMA. 

Breeding injustice 

Gobind is not the only PH member who had voiced their disagreement with the stance taken by Saifuddin as former Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah had similarly lambasted the minister for defending SOSMA. 

Maria said Saifuddin Nasution failed to realise that SOSMA procedures breed and institutionalise injustice and the minister is forgetting under Section 30 of the Act, there is a provision that allows for “extremely unfair treatment” where the detainees can be kept in prison until after all court trials and appeals are completed. 

As a result, the country has prisoners detained for more than seven or even 10 years, she argued. 

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) deputy chairperson S. Arulchelvan also raised a similar point related to unfair treatment under SOSMA. 

“Advising SOSMA detainees’ family members in SUARAM. Last PH govt said will make the law less draconian. Currently, bail is not granted so detainees are locked up for years until the case is concluded. #PM10 Please add this in agenda @saifnasution,” he tweeted. 

Netizens had also voiced their concern with the move. In response to Gobind Singh, a Facebook user Vehl Murali remarked, “Here I thought DAP is all about abolishing SOSMA.” 

A similarly-unhappy Pedro Stanislas Sangiloso said, “I wish I had the Home Minister’s WhatsApp number so I can screenshot this message and send it to him.” 

Meanwhile, commenting on Gobind’s statement, Facebook user Francis Xaviour Joe said, “It’s surprising that Saifuddin flatly refuses any changes. The fair response from him should be that ‘we will conduct a review and makes changes to any provisions in violation of constitutional freedom of individuals and tendency for abuse’.” – Dec 14, 2022  


Main photo credit: The Star

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