Panacea to reduce crime?

— Lim Sue Goan
The Malay Mail Online
July 08, 2013

JULY 8 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak made a legal reform pledge on the eve of the Malaysia Day in 2011, which was indeed a sign of democratic progress. However, the legal reforms have been questioned. Would the government backtrack?

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi refuses to support the abolition of the 1969 Sedition Act. At the same time, Home Ministry and the police blame the abolition of the Emergency Ordinance (EO) for causing the deterioration of public security and thus, the government is developing a special preventive law similar to the EO.

It was a right move for Najib to announce the abolition and amendments for some draconian laws, as these undemocratic laws had violated human rights and fundamental freedom. They were also accused to have been used against dissidents.

For example, student activist Adam Adli Abdul Halim; Tamrin Ghafar, son of late former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Ghafar Baba; Anything But Umno (ABU) leader Haris Ibrahim and three others were charged with sedition in May. Also, six Socialist Party leaders were detained under the EO.

In fact, as early as in 2005, the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) Report had proposed the abolition of the EO as the Act was “outdated and might become a tool to infringe fundamental freedom”. The EO allowed for 60 days’ detention without warrant or trial, depriving detainee’s right to seek legal defence. Therefore, the announcement to abolish the Sedition Act and the EC was in line with public opinion. The authorities should not resurrect the laws, regardless of whatever excuses.

The authorities believe that the over 2,600 detainees released after the abolition of the EO have continued committing offences and thus, the police need a new law to deal with them. However, who can guarantee that crime cases can be reduced after a new law is made? Is detention without trial really the panacea to reduce crime?

If the increase in crime causes people to fear and thus support a new law allowing detention without trial, it would waste all the efforts so far in legal reform. In fact, many people have tended to this idea and fortunately, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri holds a different view.

While exaggerating the effectiveness of preventive laws, we should not neglect the police’s law enforcement efficiency and the judiciary’s professional capacity in imposing sanction against criminals. If the authorities can arrest and take legal action against those who have violated laws quickly, I believe that it can achieve a certain level of deterrent effect. The police can actually learn from Hong Kong, Singapore and other countries or regions with good law and order.

In addition, perseverance is also the key to combatting crime. For example, public security is closely related to the spread of drugs. During the administration of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad 30 years ago, the government launched drug-abuse prevention campaigns and today, the Federal Police (Bukit Aman) Narcotics Criminal Investigation Department also launched an anti-narcotic crime movement nationwide. If all efforts last only for a brief period of time, we can actually predict the outcome.

On September 26, 2012, the prime minister made a promise at the International Malaysia Law Conference that the government would continue promoting legal reforms and said that there would be no turning back.

Hopefully, the commitment will not be shelved due to various problems. Maintaining social harmony and reducing crime cannot rely on draconian laws as draconian laws are the source of arrogance and wilfulness, instead of the panacea to enhance efficiency. —

  1. #1 by Winston on Tuesday, 9 July 2013 - 9:11 am

    This is bolehland where things can only get worse.
    Remember the much touted Whistle Blowers’ Act?
    Instead of action being taken against the accused, it is used against the accuser!!!!
    Things will never change unless PR is the new tenant in Putrajaya!!
    So, Malaysians, get REAL!!

  2. #2 by sheriff singh on Tuesday, 9 July 2013 - 10:06 am

    Maybe we should retain the Sedition Act 1969.

    What is really needed is to review this Act to see how it can be improved, made clear, with appropriate protections, as to how it should be properly applied and enforced.

    Leaving it solely to the discretion of the ‘little Napoleons’ to do as they like is definitely not on.

  3. #3 by sheriff singh on Tuesday, 9 July 2013 - 10:14 am

    Najib is very quiet now licking his wounds after the 13th GE debacle. He faces another looming big hurdle in the coming UMNO polls. His days could be numbered so he might as well enjoy his final days and let aspiring contenders have their day. We now see potential contenders now flexing their muscles.

  4. #4 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 9 July 2013 - 11:52 am

    Why are we still talking about this? The most optimistic outcome will be a dissapointment – the Act replaced by supposed “Harmony Act” which retains draconian power that UMNO/BN can still largely still abuse..It will be typical Najib of more color and words than substance and meaning.

    Move on, Najib is doing the same thing over and over again while change are all cosmetic and show not real..

  5. #5 by yhsiew on Tuesday, 9 July 2013 - 12:54 pm

    If Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi does not like to see the 1969 Sedition Act abolished, he can always emigrate to another country.

  6. #6 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Tuesday, 9 July 2013 - 2:23 pm



  7. #7 by vsp on Tuesday, 9 July 2013 - 11:18 pm

    Serious crimes flourished in the heydays of the EO, OSA and ISA Acts. These Acts enabled the authorities to act unilaterally without going through the normal channel of judicial scrutiny. Criminal activities are very lucrative businesses. These are shadowy economies operating alongside the actual economy. Crime bosses and kingpins operate in the twilight zone of the underworld and they are happy if these laws are still in operation under the aegis of their sponsored protectors. It does not escape the cognition of savvy observers that in corrupt countries, more often than not, the authorities are in cahoots with criminal characters to parcel out territories of operation. Crime bosses who have the services of powerful hire guns holding legitimate public positions can have their competitors eliminated through these laws. The public is none the wiser when some competitor’s criminals are sent away.

    So now the question need to be asked: Is Zahid protecting the interests of crime bosses or the people against arbitrary arrest? As long as Malaysia has these opaque laws helmed by self-serving politicians with nexus to the underworld, serious crime would never be eliminated. These laws only benefit the powerful corrupt officeholders and their criminal hanger-ons in the underworld, but oppress the people.

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