Aliran calls on new Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail to heed the clarion calls of civil society and individuals to review Malaysia’s repressive security law, the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).
It is alarming that Saifuddin has chosen to turn a blind eye to the undemocratic and inhumane elements of Sosma. The irony is that Saifuddin comes from a political party, PKR, which emerged from the country’s Reformasi movement. He does not need reminding that many Reformasi activists frequently fell victim to repressive laws.
Sosma is an undemocratic law because it still has a provision for 28 days’ detention without trial. Saifuddin should know this because his own PKR party colleague, Maria Chin Abdullah, who was then Bersih chairperson, fell victim to this law.
Another undemocratic clause in the law disallows bail, which effectively means an accused could be detained for a long, long time until the court finally disposes of his or her case. The injustice would be especially felt if the accused is eventually found to be innocent. Many cases have been reported in the past of abuses suffered by those detained under the law.
Bad laws must be amended or repealed so that whoever comes into power will not be able to use them for their own ends. The failure to amend or repeal Sosma will put Malaysia’s new leaders in the same position as their predecessors: they will be seen in poor light for doing little to enhance the country’s democratic credentials.
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The new administration should make a difference in how everyone is treated under the law. No one is any less deserving of their basic democratic rights or any less human. There are enough laws available already to address issues of national security and stability.
Aliran calls on the government to impose a moratorium on Sosma and engage with stakeholders to remove the draconian aspects of this law, especially the denial of bail and the lack of immediate access to the courts and lawyers.
Aliran executive committee
15 December 2022