The Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (POCA) was initially enacted to control and prevent organized crime by targeting ‘criminals, members of secret societies, terrorists and other undesirable persons’ in Malaysia. It grants the Royal Malaysian Police power to arrest and detain an individual based on the ambiguous provisions under POCA without trial for a period of up to 60 days. These 60 days can be broken down into the preliminary arrest for 24 hours, an extension of 21 days with a statement in writing signed by a police officer not below the rank of Inspector and a further extension of 38 days with a statement in writing signed by a police officer not below the rank of Assistant Superintendent.
Following the 60-day detention period, the detainee would have his or her case heard before the Prevention of Crime Board which has the power to sentence the detainee for a period of not more than two years and may extend it if they find that further detention is necessary to protect public order, public security or prevention of crime. The board also has the option to issue restraining order or discharge an individual.
In 2015, POCA was amended to include terrorism as an offence under the Act.