malaysia

Would judges who free POCA detainees be ‘protecting criminals’ too? Home minister asked

Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh Deo criticised the deputy prime minister for saying that critics of the POCA law were ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’. — File picture by Choo Choy MayBukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh Deo criticised the deputy prime minister for saying that critics of the POCA law were ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’. — File picture by Choo Choy MayKUALA LUMPUR, Aug 15 ― Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi may be seen as attempting to influence the judiciary by suggesting human rights defenders were shielding criminals in court, a DAP MP said today.

Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh Deo was responding to the home minister’s reported remarks earlier today while launching his book on the Prevention of Crime Act (POCA) 1959.

“Zahid’s statement goes to show his utter ignorance in matters concerning human rights and may even be seen to influence judges who might one day have to decide on the constitutionality of those amendments in the event they are challenged.

“What if those amendments are successfully challenged in court or if POCA detainees are set free by the courts vide habeas corpus applications in the future?

“Would the judges who preside in those cases be seen as ‘protecting criminals’ as well?

Ramkarpal said in a statement.

The federal Opposition lawmaker and lawyer expressed shock at Ahmad Zahid’s reported comment that critics of the law were “wolves in sheep’s clothing” when they often masquerade as human rights defenders but “defend criminals”, as reported by news portal Malaysiakini.

Ramkarpal chided Ahmad Zahid, saying the latter who is also deputy prime minister should have shown his political maturity by thanking everyone who had taken part in the POCA debate in Parliament.

He added that critics of the security law allowing for detentions without trial, including himself, have the right to express their concerns over the amendments, arguing that they were valid and well-founded.

Ahmad Zahid was separately reported by state news agency Bernama as saying POCA has gone through a series of amendments for improvement to make it more effective in combating crime, especially organised crime and crime by syndicates using force and violence, and to be in tandem with current developments.

The minister said POCA was enforced in 1959 in peninsular Malaysia to control and prevent organised crime by criminals, members of secret societies and other undesirable individuals who threatened national security.

He said it was “refreshed” through the POCA (Amendment and Extension) 2014, which was more effective in combating violent acts of crime and in balancing the law with human rights, and also in line with the maintenance of national security and peace.

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