A Bar Council member told Putrajaya today that abusing security legislation will cause other countries to doubt Malaysia’s reliability in the global fight against terrorism.
Bar Council human rights committee co-chair Andrew Khoo pointed out that in cases like the detention of activist Maria Chin Abdullah under an anti-terrorism law, the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma), the Bersih 2.0 chief’s activities would not constitute terrorism or a national security threat in other nations, but an ordinary expression of one’s fundamental liberties.
“I think it’s very, very dangerous to misuse national security and counter terrorism legislation.
“It raises deep and serious questions about our sincerity as a genuine partner in the global war against terrorism,” Khoo told a forum organised by the Bar Council titled “Sosma: The new ISA?”.
The lawyer also said actual terrorists would be able to continue their activities unmonitored as Malaysia was “so busy chasing shadows”.
“If we cry wolf too often, we’ll eventually not be believed and not be trusted. And I think that’s the key issue here from an international perspective,” said Khoo.
Maria was released yesterday from her detention under Sosma, about 10 days after she was arrested on November 18, the eve of the Bersih 5 rally, in an investigation under Section 124C of the Penal Code that criminalises the attempt to commit activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy.
The police also raided the office of women’s rights group Empower yesterday under the same law and invoked Sosma, seizing documents and allegedly denying the staff access to lawyers during the raid.
Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru criticised the denial of legal access to Empower staff and said the presence of lawyers during such raids would preserve the integrity of evidence, besides being able to advise clients on what documents would require a court order before the police can seize them.
“If lawyers are there, the integrity of evidence is confirmed. There’s no real suggestion of tampering, planting, because the lawyer is there. So he helps the process,” Steven told the forum.
“We’re there to aid the administration of justice, not to obstruct justice,” he added.
Lawyer R. Sivarasa, who is also Subang MP from PKR, said it was not a crime for local non-governmental organisations to receive foreign funds, as long as the objectives for such funding was not criminal and as long as the donors were not criminal organisations.
“Our government gets grants from foreign governments,” he told the forum. “Our government sells bonds to foreign banks and we receive their money. Is that a crime?”
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar told a press conference earlier today that Empower was raided over its alleged receipt of foreign funds, including from the non-profit Open Society Foundations (OSF) founded by controversial US billionaire George Soros.
Polls reform group Bersih 2.0 is also under investigation for allegedly receiving funds from the OSF.
Source : BOO SU-LYN@The Malay Mail Online