Civil society groups hand Zahid memorandum opposing PCA

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KUALA LUMPUR: Representatives of several non-governmental organisations handed a memorandum to Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi yesterday, objecting the amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act (PCA) 1959 which allows for detention without trial.

The memorandum called for Zahid to withdraw the “ISA-like” legislation from Parliament, referring to the repealed Internal Security Act (ISA) which had stipulated preventive detention.

Suaram executive director Nalini Elumalai, accompanied by Empower, youth groups and lawyers, said Zahid denied the legislation was similar to ISA.

“We told him we don’t want this ISA-like legislation to be enacted into law,” she said when met at Parliament.

“He just replied, ‘It is not ISA.’” Nalini added.

Zahid accepted the memorandum.

Before dispersing, the group urged the House not to pass any ISA-like legislation.

Nalini said the amendment contradicts Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s pledge to instil a mature and transparent democracy after repealing the ISA and the Emergency Ordinance (EO) which allowed for detention without trial.

“What happened to that pledge? And the attorney-general also said he would not allow preventive detention in the future. What happened?” she said.

The government has proposed to amend the PCA to allow the authorities to detain a suspect for up to two years without trial.

Najib defended the amendments, saying this was different from the ISA and EO as the power to detain individuals without charge or trial is not up to the discretion of the home minister but a three-man board that will be established to oversee the implementation of the law.

Among others, the memorandum calls for Zahid to retract the legislation on grounds that it goes against human rights in that it denies the rights of the people under Articles 5, 9, 10 and 13 of the Federal Constitution.

Further, the amendment falls under Articles 149 of the Federal Constitution which calls for special powers against subversion or prejudice threatening public order.

Articles 5, 9, 10 and 13 of the Federal Constitution guarantee individuals’ rights to freedom of movement, speech, assembly, association and ownership of property.The memorandum also stated the lack of specificity in the amendment leaves a wide interpretation of the law, which makes it easy for abuse, while the detention without trial is against Article 10 of the Human Rights declaration guaranteeing the individual’s right to a fair trial.For more stories, go to www.fz.com, the website for freedom of expression and fairness in articulation.This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 02, 2013.