Malaysian Parliament Passes Controversial Prevention Of Terrorism Act (POTA)

The controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota) Bill was finally passed after nearly 15 hours of debate with 79 votes for and 60 votes against in the Dewan Rakyat early this morning.

The anti-terrorism law faced considerable opposition and criticism for containing a detention without trial provision, similar to the repealed Internal Security Act (ISA) and came after police arrested 17 suspected militants.

Lawmakers said Parliament adjourned at 2.26am when the last motion to amend the Pota bill by Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng was defeated with 60 votes for and 79 votes against.

A subsequent motion to the refer the bill to the full house of the Parliament was passed 79 to 60 while a third reading of the proposed law was also passed 79 to 60.

The Dewan Rakyat had earlier stopped its clocks before midnight last night to enable the committee stage of the Pota debate to continue since noon yesterday.

The motion to stop the clock was tabled by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim and seconded by the Works Deputy Minister Datuk Rosnah Shirlin.

The Home Minister yesterday said the anti-terror act was nothing like the scrapped ISA.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Wan Jaafar said there were certain provisions in the Pota that differed from the ISA, including its executive powers and power of detention.

Putrajaya tabled the anti-terror bill last Monday, which empowered authorities to detain terrorist suspects without trial and disallowed judicial reviews on such decisions by a Prevention of Terrorism Board.

Under the proposed law, suspects can be first detained a maximum of 59 days (including the initial remand period), before being brought to the board, which can then order further detention of up to two years.

Following this, the detention period can be renewed if the board decides there are reasonable grounds. It can also direct a person to be set free if it deemed necessary.

The bill does not allow any judicial review in any court, noting that no court shall have jurisdiction over decisions by the board in its discretionary power.

Critics including Kuala Terengganu MP Datuk Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah Raja Ahmad and Kelana Jaya MP Wong Chen had raised concerns over the new law, saying that it was just a “reincarnation” of the ISA. – April 7, 2015.



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