A human rights lawyer has suggested that it is time for the Bar Council to organise another “walk for justice” to send a strong message on the abuse of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) by the powers that be.
Amer Hamzah Arshad said the usage of Section 124C of the Penal Code and Sosma against Bersih 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah was also an abuse of process by the authorities.
“It’s a deliberate act to instil fear in the hearts of the Malaysian public to prevent them from expressing their dissent against the shortcomings of the government.
“Such action requires a counter measure,” said Amer in his Facebook posting.
He said perhaps it was time for the council to rise to the occasion again and send a message to the authorities that “we do not condone such an abuse of power”.
Amer said he had in the past called on the council to organise a walk in relation to the V K Lingam video clip scandal in 2007.
“Now, I call upon the council again to rally its members to stage a peaceful assembly to express our abhorrence towards the said blatant abuse of power. We act without fear and favour.”
In September 2007, lawyers gathered in front of the Palace of Justice, in Putrajaya, and marched towards the Prime Minister’s Office to protest allegations of corruption in the judiciary following the release of the now infamous VK Lingam tape implicating then chief justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halm in a judge-fixing scandal.
Following this, the government set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate and provide its recommendations.
This finally led to the setting up of the Judicial Appointments Commission to suggest to the prime minister candidates for appointments and elevation to the superior courts.
Maria, who was arrested on the eve of last Saturday’s Bersih 5 rally in Kuala Lumpur, has filed a habeas corpus application seeking her release from detention.
She is being investigated for attempts to commit activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy, an offence under the Penal Code.
Her lawyer, Sivarasa Rasiah, said police could have just recorded Maria’s statement as part of their investigation instead of detaining her under the security law.
He cited the case of The Edge publisher and CEO Ho Kay Tat, whose statement was recorded last year to facilitate investigations for the financial daily’s articles on 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
Under Sosma, police can hold a detainee for a maximum of 28 days for investigation.
Those charged with derailing democracy could be jailed between 15 and 20 years and could be denied bail while awaiting the outcome of their trial.
The government, in tabling the Sosma Bill, had promised it would be used against suspected militants and terrorists.
Lawyer Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali said the maximum 28-day detention was an abuse of process of Maria’s legal right and her freedom.
“A suspect investigated for murder, drug trafficking or firearms possession will be remanded for a maximum 14 days before being charged or freed, but in Maria’s case she could be detained for 28 days,” he told FMT.
He said there was no check and balance under Sosma as the subordinate investigating officer will appear before a superior police officer who would decide whether to extend the detention period.
Rafique said it appeared, in Maria’s case, that police were detaining her and then conducting investigations.
“Police should have collected all evidence against her, if there was any, and finally taken her statement. No need to place her under detention,” he said.
He said Maria’s act of drumming up support in preparation of the rally, held under the Peaceful Assembly Act, could not be construed as an act detrimental to democracy.
Source : V Anbalagan@FMT Reporters Online