Friday, September 27, 2013

Criminals, not politicians, are the targets, says Home Minister on proposed changes to PCA law - ( M4L4YS14 )

The Prevention of Crime Act (PCA) will not be used to silence political opponents and civil society, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has assured.

In his opening speech at a crime prevention forum this morning, Ahmad Zahid insisted that the law will only be used against hardened criminals.

“Even the Minister will not have any power over the use of the law, which will only be given to judges, to prevent any form of abuse,” he said.

“The government we have today does not want to be accused of infringing human rights.”

On Wednesday, Putrajaya tabled the proposed amendments to the act to give it the power to detain hardcore criminals for up to two years without trial.

Ahmad Zahid had immediately described the PCA and the related 10 Bills up for amendment as “transformation”.

“You are wrong if you say it’s draconian,” he declared at the Parliament, countering opposition claims that the act was similar to the repealed Internal Security Act (ISA).

Similar to the old ISA, the proposed amendments exclude the provision of judicial review, except on procedural measures.

“Which means that we cannot mount a review in court to question the substantive decision of the minister over the detention,” commented Padang Serai Member of Parliament N. Surendran.

The PCA in its current form allows the detention of an individual for up to 72 days unlike the repealed Emergency Ordinance (EO) that allowed detention indefinitely without trial.

Presently, the PCA requires that suspects be produced in court before the 72-day detention.

It was effectively used before the ISA was enacted decades ago.

Now that the ISA is no more, the authorities are seeking to have similar sweeping powers included in the PCA.

Besides that, the PCA does not cover Sabah and Sarawak because the law was enacted in 1959 and amendments must be made for that too.

Ahmad Zahid said today’s forum on law and criminal prevention will provide for all stakeholders to give feedback.

Ahmad Zahid said MPs are free to give their views on Monday when the bill is up for debate, adding he will be on hand to reply to points raised during the debate. – September 28, 2013.