KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia needs to improve the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA), not repeal it, said Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu on Tuesday (Oct 15).
"In my view, it needs to be improved from time to time as SOSMA could be misused," he told reporters at the Parliament lobby.
He cited how Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah was arrested under SOSMA in connection with the Bersih protest gathering.
“To us, the action was not right,” said the minister.
A number of provisions under SOSMA are being reviewed for possible amendments, including the duration of detention and access to legal representation for the detainees, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong.
SOSMA has been in the spotlight following the arrest of 12 people over suspected links with the now-defunct Sri Lankan Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) separatist group.
On Oct 10, Malaysian police arrested seven people, including two politicians, suspected of being involved with LTTE. Five more individuals - including a teacher - were detained on Oct 12 on suspicion of promoting, supporting and channelling funds to LTTE, as well as possessing materials linked to the group.
Police did not name the suspects but the Democratic Action Party - a member of Malaysia's ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition - confirmed in a statement that two of its assemblymen had been arrested.
The Pakatan Harapan government had previously pledged to repeal SOSMA before coming into power.
In his first press conference as home minister in May last year, Muhyiddin Yassin said that his ministry would review seven laws, including SOSMA, and replace them if necessary.
Two months later in July, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad reiterated that the government intended to repeal SOSMA, which was introduced during former prime minister Najib Razak’s administration.
“Najib’s law allows a person to be arrested and not to be taken to court, and if that person died, there will be neither inquiry nor action taken against those who killed him. That is the law passed by Najib and we will repeal that law,” he said then