Human rights and legal experts share their views on whether the Emergency Ordinance, in any form or name, should remain as it is – gone.
THE Emergency (Public Order and Crime Prevention) Ordinance, thought to have been put to bed in 2011, may now be waking up from its short nap.
Just three days ago (Thursday), Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced that the first draft of a new special preventive law, similar to the Emergency Ordinance (EO), had been sent to the Attorney-General’s Chambers for consideration.
The draft was announced less than two weeks after criminologist Assoc Prof Dr P. Sundramoorthy of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) urged the Government to consider a new preventive law to tackle violent crime, which he claimed had “surged” since the EO was repealed two years ago.
In his letter to the press (published June 25), Dr Sundramoorthy said USM’s research team on crime and policing had anticipated that “the country was going to see a surge in violent crimes, especially those involving gangs and recidivists (repeat offenders), based on our research on this matter.
“Although it has been criticised as draconian, inhumane and undemocratic, it cannot be denied that the EO served its purpose in dealing with terrorists, secret societies, gangs, recidivists and organised crime members since its implementation in 1969.
“Most of the detainees under the EO in the last three decades were alleged to have been involved in gang activities, extortion, kidnapping, gaming and executing operations for crime bosses.
“Almost 2,000 criminals were released after the repeal of the EO last year,” he wrote.
He even posed a question to Malaysian citizens: “To what extent are we willing to give up safety for the sake of liberty and democracy?”
Dr Sundramoorthy’s suggestion has been received both ways. While some laud the move, believing it will make Malaysia a little safer, others dread the possible resurrection of the draconian law.
“What we’re advocating is for a law similar to EO, but not identical to EO, to be established. Unlike the EO, it can have safeguards to prevent abuses by the authorities... even provisions to allow for a detention to be reviewed. But we must have a law to allow police to detain habitual repeat offenders.
“I’m not saying that EO was a perfect tool, but it was able to deal with this small group of people who proved extremely difficult for the authorities to successfully prosecute and obtain a conviction against,” he tells Sunday Star.