MPs smell ISA in the new crime prevention act

Harakahdaily – TS, 27 September 2013


Sept 27: The newly Prevention of Crime Act (1959) bill that includes the reintroduction of “preventive detention” has been described as a ‘backdoor’ method to revive the repealed Internal Security Act (ISA) and Emergency Ordinance (EO).

In a joint statement today, Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari and Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim said the amendments proposed for the new PCA that comprised “presumption of guilt, disallowing legal redress and according wide discretionary powers to an arbitrary board” were problematic, a clear violation of civilliberties and a return to the dark era of ISA.

Both agreed that Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 that allows preventive detention on matters pertaining to national security and the existing provision under PCA to allow remand up to 28 days and then a further 28 days upon the approval of a magistrate, had rendered the introduction of preventivedetention under the new PCA bill unnecessary.

“Therefore, the PCA amendments can be seen as an attempt to broaden the ambit for detention withouttrial. Instead of taking the easy way out by using detention without trial, the police should focus on solving crime via the criminal justice system,” they proposed.

Zairil and Sim also slammed the strong element of presumption of guilt present in the amendmentsproposed to PCA under section 7C(a)(i) that allows an accused being detained without the need to be proven guilty.

The two MPs also questioned the power bestowed to the three panel members of the “Prevention of Crime Board”, whose decision cannot be challenged or reviewed through any legal means under Section 15A(1) of the new PCA bill.

A judicial review is only possible on matters concerning the Board’s compliance with proceduralrequirements.

“While we do not object to the strengthening of existing criminal laws to tackle escalating crime, the current amendments are akin to the government reviving the oppressive EO and ISA through the backdoorvia the PCA,” charged Zairil and Sim.

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