Sosma Act can be retained but provisions under the Act should be reviewed, says lawyers

23 Dec 2022 07:11pm
Photo for illustration only. 

Photo: 123RF
Photo for illustration only. Photo: 123RF

SHAH ALAM - The Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) Act can be retained, but provisions under the Act should be reviewed to suitably govern today's threats, say legal experts.

Lawyer Haniff Khatri said Sosma can be retained, but it needs to be reviewed, amended, and measured against provisions for crimes, especially terrorism.

"Sosma is needed because now we are talking about terrorism. So, the police alone cannot handle this.

"In my opinion, Sections 4 and 13 need to be reviewed. Yes, we can apply normal law to crimes like robbery and rape.

"However, for terrorist activities, we would need Sosma," he added.

On the review of Sosma, lawyer Akif Rusli, who agreed with Haniff, stated that it must be balanced with a precise interpretation of the limits to determine the act of terrorism, treason, and organised crime.

Both Hanif and Akif said that Section 4, which violates an accused person's rights to cross-examine prosecution witnesses who are under protection in the absence of the accused person or his counsels, must be amended.

"This must be amended accordingly, which at the very least grants the rights for the counsel representing the accused persons to be in attendance during the examination in chief of that kind of witness," he added.

Moreover, lawyer Fatihah Jamhari believed the unity government should review SOSMA with the assistance of lawyer Syahredzan Johan.

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Syahredzan is also the Bangi member of parliament who has been practising law and specialising in cases related to Sosma.

"Syahredzan is personally experienced in handling such cases, I'm sure there is a clear check and balance in the application of the Act," she added.

She also believes that Syahredzan's insights will be valuable for ensuring SOSMA is enforced properly.

However, former Bar Council president Salim Bashir Bhaskaran expressed that the unity government should work towards abolishing any laws that are draconian and repressive in nature, like SOSMA.

He opined that the SOSMA Act can infringe on individual fundamental rights guaranteed under our constitutions, and although it is a procedural law, it impedes the basic rule of law.

"We must know that under SOSMA, certain offences under the penal code are categorised as security offenses, for which different rules of evidence and trial procedures apply," he said.

Previously, DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang has urged the government to amend the "draconian provisions" under the SOSMA.

Lim mentioned that the previous administration, led by Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, had begun discussions with interested parties on the subject but needed more time to carry out a cabinet decision taken in 2019 under the tenure of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.

The Sosma Act was established under Article 149 of the Federal Constitution to address internal security issues including public order, acts of terrorism, sabotage, and espionage.

The Act replaces the controversial Internal Security Act (ISA) of 1960.