KUALA LUMPUR – Opposition lawmakers reacted sharply to the Malaysian government’s proposed amendments to several crime laws, saying these were “more draconian” than they had expected.
They lambasted Prime Minister Najib Razak for taking Malaysia back in time to an era where the government could arrest, abuse, enforce and persecute with impunity.
They scorned the 60-year-old Najib for scooting off to San Francisco and New York on what they claimed was a public relations binge to burnish his “phony” progressive and moderate credentials by meeting new world icons such as Facebook’s Mike Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Dick Costolo.
Yet even as Najib shook hands with these men, who might think twice about meeting him if they knew, his lieutenants were busy executing his orders to ram through laws that sought to deny suspects basic human rights, exposing them to the whims and fancies of a potentially abusive and cruel authority.
No wonder then that the Opposition also slammed Najib for his alleged political dishonesty and hypocrisy, warning that the end motive of the tough amendments was to suppress political rivals and dissidents.
“He lied to the people when he said EO and ISA will be abolished. Did he not say on national television two years ago that there will be no more preventive detention? This is a return of ISA, make no mistake about that,” MP for Padang Serai N Surendran said in a statement sent to the press.
“This is a black day for Malaysia. The government is setting back the clock and dragging us back to the era of arbitrary arrest and detention.”
Indefinite jail WITHOUT trial
Najib had repealed the Emergency Ordinance and Internal Security Act which were heavily opposed for legalizing detention of suspects without trial for two-year periods that could be rolled over indefinitely.
Najib had then promised there would be “no more” unfair laws. But after the May 5 general election that left his Umno-BN coalition severely weakened, it looks like he is trying to rebuild his power by reinstating laws that his coalition could use to intimidate and scare political rivals, dissidents and critics.
“Hello ISA. Lest we forget, most Pakatan Rakyat MPs, politicians, activists were former detainees. Why bother pretending with parliamentary democracy? It is non-existent,”said Nurul Izzah Anwar, the MP for Lembah Pantai.
“It is another rush job to pass laws without thorough consultation with the Opposition or with civil society. Najib talks about national reconciliation between the government and the Opposition but does not take the trouble to build consensus on such major laws as these. Perhaps this is deliberate and if so, it shows again he is a political phony out to ambush the parliamentary process because these laws are clearly inhumane or against basic human rights,” MP for Batu Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.
National “retaliation” by AMBUSH but quick fixes won’t help
Home Minister Zahid Hamidi and de-facto Law Minister Nancy Shukri were also flayed for not giving the Opposition MPs due notification of th amendements they planned to pushed through.
Parti Socialis Malaysia MP for Sungei Siput told the press he only received his copy of the amendment Bills when the Lower House called for a mid-day break today.
“Looking at the policies directed to the community, he (Najib) continues to try and divide the people. With the Prevention of Crime Act, it is like bringing back the Emergency Ordinance legislation all but in name all over again, which provides for detention for a long period,” said DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, adding that this was not “national reconciliation” but “national retaliation”.
“Laws no matter how tough laws don’t solve problems or bring down crime rates. The fact is the Umno-BN government lacks the will to carry out structural reforms such as establishing an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission, rooting out corruption and abuses of power,” said Tian.
However, Zahid denied the amendments to the PCA and 10 other related Bills were overly aggressive.
“You are wrong if you say it’s draconian,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby.
Zahid declined to give further details, saying that all questions will be answered when he tables the PCA for a second reading on September 30.