Opposition rejects motion to extend 28-day detention under Sosma

Opposition lawmakers have rejected the government’s plans for an extension of enforcement of the 28-day detention period without trial under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).

The motion proposed earlier sought an extension of enforcement of the 28-day detention period under Sosma for another five years, starting July 31, 2022. Under the law, this clause has to be reviewed every five years.

In a bloc vote carried out in the Dewan Rakyat, 86 MPs opposed the motion, while 84 voted for it. Another 50 lawmakers were not present.

Earlier, several opposition MPs said that the nation already had sufficient laws to detain and prosecute those who committed crimes.

They added that the existing laws (not Sosma) allowed for those who had been detained to be brought before a magistrate, and that the accused would have access to legal representation.

They also denied suggestions that the Act was being abused by the police, adding that the MPs supported the police in its fight against crime, but said that police officers had admitted that they had received orders “from above” to take action under Sosma.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin (Bersatu-Larut) (main image), in tabling the motion, had earlier in the day, said that those who rejected the law “did not love the country”.

Zainuddin’s statement came under a barrage of fire.

Khoo Poay Tiong (PH-Kota Melaka) said that opposition MPs rejected Sosma, not because they did not love the country, but because they did.

“Those who don’t love the country are the traitors who formed the backdoor government, like frogs jumping here and there,” said Khoo, in an apparent jibe at Hamzah.

Hamzah quit Umno when the Barisan Nasional crumbled in the 2018 election before joining Parti Pribumi Bersatu Nasional. Bersatu later quit the Pakatan Harapan coalition and went on to form the Perikatan Nasional government.

“That, is not loving the country, causing instability … resulting in foreign investors not wanting to enter (Malaysia). They are the traitors to the country,” Khoo added.

Later in the day, Hamzah apologised for his earlier comments.

Several other lawmakers raised concerns that the “draconian law” with “sunset clauses” would be used against those who went against the government.

Hamzah refuted such a notion, saying it was their “perception”.

“The 28 days is to give the police enough time (to investigate) cases,” Hamzah said.

“I have been the Home Minister for the past two years. I’ve not abused the law.

“This is not about the present minister or the future minister, it’s about the law, and this law is necessary. As to it being abused, all laws in the country can be abused,” Hamzah said.

He added that what was important was a law that protected Malaysia’s security.

“The nature of the crimes under this Act are often complex, and require in-depth investigations that are time-consuming. Sometimes, it involves a big group of individuals, and we may be required to gather evidence from abroad. All this takes time.

“In Singapore, they still have their Internal Security Act (ISA). We call the ISA ‘draconian’, but Singapore is still using it.

“The argument today is the possible abuse, and that’s just a perception,” he added.

Hamzah said he agreed with Gobind Singh Deo (PH-Puchong) that there were elements within the Act that had to be looked into.

“Like what Puchong said, there are certain things in the Act that need to be reviewed. So, let’s review it. But we shouldn’t abolish it altogether.”

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