Opposition MPs are still in the dark over details of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and are worried rushing its approval will lead to abuse later.
James Sivalingam | March 18, 2015
KUALA LUMPUR: Pakatan Rakyat MPs today urged the government to present the draft on the impending Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) that is up for debate soon.
Kelana Jaya MP, Wong Chen urged the government to “get their act together” and present the draft to Members of Parliament because they needed more time to deliberate on the contents of the Act and gather expert opinions in order to ask pertinent questions during the debate.
He said the Act had wide implications in terms of human rights and freedom of expression and that they were expected to debate the issue in less than ten days.
“We need to know what kind of information (is in the Act) and whose rights will be curtailed, and who are they targeting as well as the definition of terrorism.”
According to Wong Chen, as of noon today, the MPs had yet to receive the draft of POTA, and lamented, that the brand of parliamentary democracy practiced in Malaysia was stacked against the opposition as Bills were often given at the last moment with a debate expected right after.
“We demand this draft be presented to us by tomorrow and put on the website for the world, public to be able to read it.
“Any delay is a travesty of justice and a travesty of parliamentary democracy,” he said.
Sharing the same sentiments was PAS’ Kuala Terengganu MP, Raja Kamarul Bahrin Raja Ahmad, who said, “Please don’t treat the general public and Members of Parliament like we are absolute idiots. I’m sorry to use such words, but that’s how they are treating us.
“As if we are just there to rubber stamp and bulldoze everything through. It’s been practiced for too long,” he said.
He added, “We have seen abuses (of laws) before, with the Internal Security Act (ISA), and presently with the Sedition Act.
“We have reason to fear, that there may be further abuse with this new Act. We have requested for it enough times so we can deliberate and study the Act,” he said.
According to Raja Bahrin, when opposition MPs inquired about the implications of the bill to the general public, the response they got was simply that the United States of America and Australia had similar laws.
The PAS MP said it was important to note that anti-terrorism laws in both those countries applied only to foreigners, and that it was still not known if the same would be true for Malaysia.
He added, “We want to know if this Anti-Terrorism Act will be applied to Malaysians too.
“This is how ISA started. In the 60′s Tun Razak (former Prime Minister) himself gave very strong assurances that ISA was meant for the Communists, but as we know, it was applied to everybody especially politicians of the opposition.
“So we have real grounds to fear, and we need to have time to deliberate and consult. These are not unfounded fears.”
While Raja Bahrin did not deny the existence of home grown terrorism, he said present laws and acts were sufficient to deal with those threats.