Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) is appalled by Ayob Khan’s attempt to mislead the nation on the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) in his sharing during ‘Rakyat Malaysia Terlibat Militan’ reported on 21 November 2019. The concerns raised by Ayob Khan is misleading as it attempts to portray Malaysia as a nation that has no criminal justice system that can address the threat of terrorism if SOSMA was to be abolished.
Two main points were raised in the media coverage of the session. One, that terror suspects should be denied bail automatically as provided for under SOSMA; and two, the 28 days remand period should be maintained.
The claim that if suspects are allowed bail, they would be allowed to reunite with their terror cell and conduct attack is absurd. The process for bail as proposed by human rights advocates were always to leave it in the hand of the judiciary as the judiciary serves as the check to any executive action. In this case, why is the judiciary who presides over criminal trials and issuance of bail for cases of murder, drug trafficking and armed robbery suddenly unfit and unsound to decide on whether a person should be granted bail when they committed an act of terror?
If the police through the public prosecutor can give good cause that the person should not be granted bail as there are clear concerns that they may commit further offences or pose a threat to public safety, would a reasonable judge deny that application?
As for the 28 days remand period, the concerns were never the period of remand, but how the remand is granted.. Under the Criminal Procedure Code, the police have the power to apply for a maximum remand period of 14 days. The key difference between the Criminal Procedure Code and SOSMA is that a judge decides on the remand period under the Criminal Procedure Code and the police decide under SOSMA. Why should the police, an extension of the executive be granted power to decide on remand process when it ought to be the fundamental duty of the judiciary?
If the duration for investigation is inadequate under the existing law, the police must make an effort to engage all stakeholders including civil societies and the Bar Council to develop amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code to provide the necessary laws to investigate criminal offences. Not advocate for a law that grants the police blanket power to remand on a whim with no power granted to any judicial body to keep them in check.
Based on the two points raised by Ayob Khan, it makes it clear that Ayob Khan is still attempting to mislead Malaysians by portraying SOSMA as a good law to protect the safety and security of Malaysians and without it we are doomed to violence and security threat. Unfortunately, his position and claims have not an ounce of truth as terrorism offence is provided for under the Penal Code, and the Criminal Procedure Code provides all the necessary measures for police to take action.
We must also be cognizant that Ayob Khan position that all measures to tackle terrorism should not involve judicial scrutiny is an indirect attack on the judiciary. Does Ayob Khan secretly believe that the judiciary in Malaysia is incompetent to preside over criminal matters and such things are best left to the wisdom of the Royal Malaysian Police without any form of proper check and balance? If he does, is he the kind of police officers that Malaysians want?