KUALA LUMPUR (March 23): The Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday (March 23) rejected a motion to extend the effective period of subsection 4(5) of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) — which grants the police special powers to hold individuals arrested and detained under the Act for up to 28 days — for another five years.
The results of a bloc vote showed only 84 members of Parliament were in favour of the motion, with 86 MPs voting against it. Another 50 MPs were not present.
Prior to that, deputy Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Ramli Mohd Nor decided that the motion was to be held by a bloc vote after Teluk Intan MP Nga Kor Ming stood up to ask for a bloc vote, in accordance with Standing Order 46 (4).
Following that, the Dewan Rakyat sitting was adjourned for 10 minutes after the bell rang for two minutes, before the vote was conducted.
When the Dewan Rakyat came back into session, Speaker Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun who had taken over from Ramli initiated the vote-counting session. It also enabled Ramli, who is also the Cameron Highlands MP, to participate in the vote.
The voting session was also a bit chaotic when a number of Opposition MPs raised protests against some government MPs who entered the House late, after the voting session began.
Azhar then ruled that the votes of MPs who came in after the voting session started were not going to be counted.
Earlier in the day, the government, through the Home Ministry, had tabled a motion in the Dewan Rakyat to extend the effective period of subsection 4(5) of the SOSMA for another five years from July 31 this year, with 19 MPs also debating the motion afterwards.
"The provisions of subsection 4(5) of SOSMA should be extended and the detention period of 28 days maintained to give sufficient time to the police to complete the investigation of security offence cases which are complex," said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin.
“Furthermore, the investigation of cases involving security offences, especially terrorism and organised crime is complex and takes time to complete, to obtain evidence from detainees during the collection of relevant evidence for prosecution purposes, including tracking down accomplices who could still be at large," he said when submitting a motion related to SOSMA in the Dewan Rakyat.
It was the second time an extension of the 28-day detention provision was sought since the Act came into force on July 31, 2012, with the first five-year extension approved in 2017.
“Based on my discussion with the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), in fact, this 28-day period is not sufficient because the cases investigated are very complicated and complex...involving terrorist groups and organised crime that have wide networks,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hamzah denied that SOSMA is an oppressive law, asserting that subsection 4(3) provides that no person may be arrested and detained under this section solely for political beliefs or political activities.
Hamzah further noted that since 2016 to January 2022, a total of 3,717 individuals were detained under this Act.
“A total of 400 individuals were detained for involvement with elements of terrorist groups, 321 were involved in human trafficking syndicates, 1,838 for human trafficking offences and 1,030 under offences for organised crime,” he said.
“Without subsection 4(5) being extended and if the total detention of 28 days is not maintained, it is feared that the quality of police investigations will be affected.
“[This is] because it is made in a hurry, having only 24 hours to conduct investigations, prepare and complete the investigation papers, and subsequently submit them to the deputy public prosecutor (DPP) for further instructions,” added Hamzah
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