- POSTED: 01 Oct 2013 21:56
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The Malaysian parliament is debating a controversial bill which critics say will bring back preventive detention in the country, with its home minister determined to have the bill passed before the end of the week.
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian parliament is debating a controversial bill which critics say will bring back preventive detention in the country.
Malaysia's Home Minister Zahid Hamidi is determined to have the bill passed before the end of the week.
To allay public concerns, he has promised to review certain contentious provisions and implement more safeguards to prevent abuse of power.
Mr Zahid had arrived to table the controversial bill for a second reading, amid tensions brewing in the lower house.
He is accused of trying to revive the old Internal Security Act (ISA) by amending the 1959 Prevention of Crime Act (PCA) to provide for detention without charge or trial.
Opposition MPs were pulling out all stops to try and stall the proceedings by asking for more time to debate the bill, but the minister did not relent, insisting that preventive law is necessary to keep the country safe.
Those who opposed the amendments, he said, were in fact protecting hardcore criminals.
But Mr Zahid did promise to review some of the contentious provisions raised by non-governmental organisations and the Bar Council, especially over the lack of judicial review.
Mr Zahid said: " I did discuss with their representative. We are going to articulate the suggestions passed to me.
“Then, I need to get the consent of the cabinet in order for the detailed amendments to be made."
The added safeguards include increasing the number of board members from three to five people who can authorise the two-year detention, raising the remand period from 39 to 60 days with judicial supervision, and that the board must conduct a yearly review of all the detainees.
Still, opposition MPs are not convinced.
The powers, they complain, are just too broad and may be used to stifle political dissent.
But with the ruling government having the majority in parliament, the minister is bent on bulldozing the bill through by the end of the week.