Malaysia is experiencing one of the worst years for human rights this year with its multiple detentions without trial that bring back memories of the Ops Lalang period, Dr Kua Kia Soong said today.
Kua, the adviser of human rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), cited the government’s 1987 security crackdown under Ops Lalang to put opposition members, activists and other Malaysians under the now-abolished Internal Security Act (ISA).
“Why do I say that 2016 is one of the worst years for human rights in Malaysia? Of course there’s historical context, when you compare it to the past; there’s no comparison.
“But I said it’s one of the worst years for human rights in Malaysia, means during the time post Operation Lalang years, suddenly detention without trial of Maria Chin Abdullah and others, other human rights defenders, brings back memories of Ops Lalang,” he said at the launch of Suaram’s annual human rights report.
Kua was one of those who were detained without trial under ISA.
“That’s one of the justification of Suaram’s existence, we were formed to campaign against detention without trial,” he said.
In Suaram’s Human Rights Report Malaysia 2016 Review, a total of 475 cases of detention without trial under three laws were recorded this year by the group.
Suaram said detentions without trial under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) has jumped to 189 as of October 31 this year from fewer than 50 cases in the same period last year.
Of the 189 Sosma detentions this year, 102 were for terrorism, 39 were for human trafficking and immigration offences, while the remaining 45 cases were for other criminal offences.
Suaram’s statistics showed detentions under the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (Poca) this year came to 278, with the bulk of it for other criminal offences at 249.
The remaining one and 28 cases were for terrorism and trafficking and immigration respectively.
The group noted that Poca was originally aimed at preventing organised crimes such as by gangsters and repeat offenders and has since been extended to cover terrorism offences.
As such, Suaram expressed concern that the preventive detention law was used against first-time offenders this year.
Suaram cited the cases of two young brothers aged 17 and 19 who had no criminal records but were detained under Poca for investigations on an attempted murder during a gang fight.
“As noted earlier, Poca seems to be used as a fall back by the police whenever Sosma is found to be inadequate in extending the detention of an individual,” the report said.
During the launch, Suaram project coordinator Amir Abd Hadi highlighted the case of Universiti Malaya student Siti Noor Aishah, who was detained under Sosma for possessing books allegedly linked to terrorism.
“The court has already ordered her to be released but police have detained her on the same day under POCA,” he said, referring to the court’s September 29 decision to acquit her of an offence under the Penal Code.
Suaram’s report also said documented cases of detentions without trial this year under a third law — the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 — stood at 11.
Suaram also highlighted that the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985, which allows for a 60-day detention upon arrest and a sentencing to two years’ detention which can be renewed.
Amir said civil society groups are currently in talks to form a coalition against all laws permitting detention without trial, instead of Sosma alone which was recently used to detain Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah.
Source : IDA LIM@The Malay Mail Online