Home Civil Society Voices 2013 Civil Society Voices The Empire strikes back: Re-enter the Dark Ages?

The Empire strikes back: Re-enter the Dark Ages?

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Some elements of “the deep state” have apparently taken the opportunity presented by public discontent over soaring violent crime to advance their repressive agenda, says Jeyakumar Devaraj.


On 25 September, the government yesterday tabled amendments to seven Acts of Parliament relating to crime. The Ministers tabling these amendments all said that the second reading would be during this session of Parliament.

But given the short duration of this session – only five days more, it is unlikely that we will get to debate all of them this session.

However even the passage of one of them would be quite detrimental to civil society. Several of the proposed changes are quite worrying – let me highlight a few of these:

New provisions to the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 resurrects preventive detention.

The new sections 7B and 7C of this Act provide for a ‘Prevention of Crime’ Board – consisting of a judge or a retired judge and two other members – which is empowered to issue detention orders “in the interest of public order, public security or the prevention of crime”.

Section 19 empowers the Board to issue a detention order for two years which can be extended by a further two years without limit. And Section 15A of the Act specifies that “there shall be no judicial review of any decision made by the Board in the exercise of its discretionary power”!

Some of the amendments to the Penal Code are even more hair raising!

New section 121E (1) states “whoever mutiliates, defaces, physically defiles, burn, tramples on . . . . any flag of a foreign nation shall be punished by imprisonment for a term of not less than five years and not more than 15 years…”

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Section 121E (2) adds “whoever uses, recognises or promotes the use of any flag that purports to represent Malaysia other than the flag specified…” would face imprisonment for between five and 15 years!

New section 440A says “whoever without the written authority of the Government or the owner in the case of private property (a) writes, draws, sprays, paints,… any word, slogan, caricature, symbol…; (b) affixes, posts up, displays… any poster, bill, notice… commits vandalism and shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years.”!

Among the amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code are the new sections 265A, B and C which provides for the classification of a witness as a “Protected Witness” whose identity is not revealed, who gives evidence to the judge without the presence of the accused and his lawyer and who cannot be cross examined directly by the lawyer for the accused.

Aiyoh! Where do these guys keep their brains?!

It appears that some elements of “the deep state”* have taken the opportunity presented by widespread public discontent regarding skyrocketing violent crime to advance their anti-democratic, authoritarian and repressive agenda. For the “deep state” knows just too well that democracy, checks and balances and an empowered populace are toxic to its objective of protecting entrenched vested interests.

I know that many people are a bit weary with all the ongoing campaigns – the TPPA, GST, Lynas, indigenous people’s rights, migrant workers, minimum wages, etc. But we have no choice but to rally together to delay the tabling of the amendments to these three Acts until some of their more harsh and draconian sections have been removed.

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*Deep State – a concept that the various institutions of a country have a shared agenda to protect the existing status quo, and will be prepared to sacrifice democracy and basic human rights if necessary to protect the interests of the economic and political elite.

It refers (in Turkey) to a parallel secret government, organised by the intelligence and security apparatus, financed by drugs, and engaging in illicit violence, to protect the status and interests of the military against threats from intellectuals, religious groups, and occasionally the constitutional government. In this book, I adapt the term somewhat to refer to the wider interface in America between the public, the constitutionally established state, and the deep forces behind it of wealth, power, and violence outside the government. You might call it the back door of the Public state, giving access to dark forces outside the law. The analogy with Turkey is not perfect, because what we see today in America is less a parallel structure than a wide zone or milieu of interaction between the public state and unseen dark forces, as I expound in my latest book The American War Machine. But this interaction is significant, and we need a name, such as Deep state, to describe it. – Prof Peter Dale Scott

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