Human rights and civil liberties advocates have cause to rejoice that the battle to uphold the rule of law in Malaysia is not a lost cause when recently-sacked UMNO division deputy chief Khairuddin Abu Hassan and his lawyer, Matthias Chang were released under bail after the High Court ruled that the charges of sabotage of financial services do not fall under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA).
High Court judge Mohd Azman Husin decided that financial services do not come within the ambit of Article 149 (1) of the federal constitution where the SOSMA law was enacted by Parliament and ordered the case against Khairuddin Abu Hassan and Matthias Chang to be tried in the Sessions Court.
Both were allowed bail at RM10,000 each with one surety.
Mohamad is charged with sabotaging the financial and banking institutions of Malaysia by lodging police reports on the 1MDB scandal in Singapore, Hong Kong and United Kingdom.
The duo have been detained for more than one month and denied bail, after authorities categorised the charged offence as a security offence.
The past five days with the senseless massacre by Islamic State (IS) suicide bombers and gunmen in Paris last Friday, leaving 129 dead and 350 injured, and the beheading of the Malaysian hostage Bernard Then by Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Sulu yesterday, have changed the geo-political and security picture not only world-wide but also in the region.
The Government must combat terrorism as a real threat to the peace and security of the country, region and the world and seek a national consensus rising above race, religion and politics and not to use it as a convenient excuse to “play politics” to carry out repression against dissent and fundamental human rights of Malaysians.
Any thought to exploit the terrorist threat to advance the narrow and sectional objectives of those in power to preserve their position must be completely discarded as the terrorist threat against the country and region is real and not an imaginary one.
Malaysia had moved dangerously in such a direction in recent times when the government abused SOSMA laws to persecute and prosecute persons for activities which have no relationship whatsoever with terrorism – for instance prosecuting Khairuddin and Chang under SOSMA laws for their actions critical or inimical to 1MBD so as to shut up Khairuddin and put the duo in custody indefinitely.
The High Court decision releasing Khairuddin and Chang on bail is an important step to return Malaysia to the rule of law, and it should be followed up with a full review by the Attorney-General’s Chambers to withdraw all criminal prosecutions and halt all police investigations under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) with regard to actions or activities which are not related to terrorism or terrorist activities.
It is really ironic and in fact a legal and juristic scandal that instead of having the most “judicial” Attorney-General, as Tan Sri Mohamad Apandi Ali had been appointed Attorney-General with a mere 24-hour notice of resignation as Federal Court judge, Malaysia is facing the danger of having the most “political” Attorney-General in the nation’s history!
Let Apandi Ali declare whether he accepts the High Court decision on the release of Khairuddin and Chang and would withdraw all prosecutions and halt all police investigations based on SOSMA for activities which may be detrimental or inimical to the vested interests of the government of the day, but have no relationship whatsoever with terrorism or terroristic activities.