COMMENT Last week on Oct 3, 2013, the rakyat witnessed the return of detention without trial 2.0.
This time it disguised itself as the Prevention of Crime (Amendment and Extension) Bill 2013, which was passed with a voice of majority by BN MPs in the Dewan Rakyat past midnight, with the Parliament clock once again stopped for it to be voted on for the third time, since one and a half years ago.
The amendments of PCA were indeed stringently opposed by Pakatan lawmakers, Suhakam, the Malaysian Bar, the Sabah Law Association, the Advocates Association of Sarawak and human rights advocates, as it allows the return of detention without trial for years.
This is clearly an affront to the principles of justice and open for abuse.
Above all, the introduction of amendments and extension of the PCA has not only backpedaled the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s (left) political transformation programme – as he claimed that the abolishment of the controversial ISA in less than two years ago was part of his transformation programme and to uphold human rights – but also further entrenched his authoritarian administration.
Equally disappointing, Najib seemingly acquiesces with his Umno colleague’s statements which obviously disregard the rule of law and shows indifference to human rights.
The Minister of Home Affairs, Ahmad Zahid bin Hamidi in particular, was reported to have made several shocking remarks at an event in Malacca over the recent amendments to the PCA.
As the incident unfolded, it was not merely about Zahid’s insensibility or incapability in familiarising himself with the basic principles of law, but in fact reflected the arrogance of the Umno minister.
Meanwhile, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Shahidan Kassim (left), who was at the event when Zahid made the contentious speech, blamed the media and journalists for being unethical to report on a closed-door event that was not for public consumption, despite that the event was initially open to media. Tables were even allocated for journalists.
Attempt at Umno crowd-pleasing?
Apart from this, the racist remarks allegedly made by Zahid in claiming that the majority of gangsters were Malaysians of Indian descent whilst the victims were of another race, and therefore there was nothing wrong in arresting or shooting them, should also be highlighted.
Such insensitive and outrageous statements, particularly in the multiracial, heterogeneous society of Malaysia, is nonetheless the most common utterance of Umno’s politicians.
It’s perceived as the most effective weapon to continually garner power to strengthen their political position within the party, as well as in the country.
With less than two weeks to go before the Umno supreme council elections, being one of the current vice-presidents of Umno, Zahid (right) has indeed a lot of crowd pleasing to do to secure and defend his position in Umno.
The tactics he appears to employ are firstly to voice displeasure against certain segments of Malaysian society (read, the non-Malays) while pleasing other stakeholders in the nation, and secondly, media bashing in trying to frame himself as being one of the bigger supporters of Mahathirism.
Hence, in our point of view, the amendments of the PCA to re-introduce detention without trial is to serve as a means for certain interested parties and individuals to achieve their political objectives, but not for the sake of rakyat’s safety and national security.
Tomorrow: Do we really need preventive detention?
WILLIAM LEONG JEE KEEN is Member of Parliament for Selayang. Kajian Politik untuk Perubahan (KPRU) is a critical research institute engaged in research and dialogue to shape Malaysia’s future.