Home Minister seeks to extend Sosma detention clause for another five years

By Ida Lim
Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (pic) says Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang may table his Bill only after Putrajaya concludes its affairs in Parliament. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 29 ― The Home Minister has sought Parliament's nod for the extension of a Security Offences (Special Measures) Act provision allowing 28 days of detention without trial for another five years.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's proposed motion was listed in the Dewan Rakyat's Order Paper today as item 10.

He proposed that the lower House of Parliament move to resolve “that pursuant to sub section 4(11), of Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 to extend the enforcement sub section 4(5) of this Act for another five years beginning from July 31, 2017”.

Under Sosma, the police is given special powers to arrest and detain without warrant any person that are believed to be involved in security offences, and are allowed to detain them for 24 hours for investigation.

Section 4(5) of Sosma also allows a police officer holding at least the rank of Superintendent of Police to further extend the detention period to up to 28 days.

As for Section 4(11) of Sosma, it requires a review of the police's powers under Section 4(5) to impose the 28-day detention order every five years.

It also states that Section 4(5) will cease to have effect unless both Houses of Parliament pass a resolution after reviewing the clause to extend its period of operation.

Since Sosma came into effect on July 31, 2012, Section 4(5) will lapse this July 31, 2017 if its applicability is not renewed.

The federal government must get the resolution passed in this Dewan Rakyat sitting if it wishes to have the Section 4(5) clause run uninterrupted, owing to the schedule of Parliament meetings.

The ongoing Dewan Rakyat meeting will run until next Thursday. The lower House of Parliament will resume its meeting on July 24 until August 10.

The upper House of Parliament, the Dewan Negara will meet from April 17 to April 27, with its next meeting to be from August 14 to August 22.

Critics of the controversial 28-day detention without trial provision in Sosma have said it has been abused, especially in the case of polls reform group Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah last year.

Sosma was introduced to replace the now-abolished Internal Security Act 1960, which permits 60 days of detention without trial which can be further extended for two years by the Home Minister for an indefinite number of times.