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Saturday, 24 August 2013


By V.Anbalagan (MI August 15, 2011)
For the first time, Putrajaya’s top lawyer has publicly stated that preventive detention had actually failed to check the rise in violent crimes but the police were “addicted" to using the law.
Attorney General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail (pic) revealed that many suspects were detained without trial and freed later but public order and security did not improve in the country. "This is because detainees returned to their former activities after they were freed," he told a forum organised by the Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation in Petaling Jaya yesterday.
However, he said, the police had relied on the Emergency Ordinance (EO) to lock up suspected hardcore criminals, as they were simply "addicted to it". Since the repeal of the EO, Bukit Aman has been calling for the reintroduction of a law which would allow detention without trial.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has been at the forefront of a movement to reintroduce a similar law as a way to fight the rise in violent crimes in the country. Since May 2013, there have been more than 35 shootings nationwide which has claimed at least 24 lives.
Under the repealed EO, a detainee could be held in a detention centre up to two years. The Home Minister could renew the detention order for another two years and repeat this cycle for an indefinite period.
Gani told the forum that the authorities must erase the records of detainees three months after their release from detention under the EO and that simply meant there was nothing much the police could do after that period. “We will be infringing the law if we, for example maintained their fingerprints," he said.
Relating how the EO came into being, Gani said it was not passed by parliament and was never intended for permanent use. “It was promulgated by the King on the advice of the executive following the May 13 riots in 1969.  "The EO was introduced to meet the situation then as there were loss of lives and property in a span of few days following the May 13 racial riots," he said.
Gani said even after the repeal of the EO in 2011, there was no evidence from the 1,567 investigation papers submitted that violent crimes were committed by former detainees. Gani said there are many laws, including the Penal Code that could be used to arrest and prosecute those suspected of crimes.
"We have used existing laws to prosecute notorious criminals like Botak Chin and pirates in Sabah in the past," he said, referring to one of Malaysia's legendary gangsters. Wong Swee Chin, popularly called Botak Chin for his short-cropped hair style, was one of the most notorious gangsters during the 1970s and was infamous for committing daring daylight armed robberies.
Gani said he believed in the principle that one was innocent until proven guilty and a better way to deal with suspects were to charge them in court. "Preventive laws are an abuse to human rights and personal liberty as enshrined in our Federal Constitution and this guarantee must be safeguarded at all costs," he said, adding  that the international community welcomed Putrajaya's move to dismantle the EO and the Internal Security Act.

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