Sosma important to guarantee national security

05 Jan 2023 11:16am
Image for illustrative purposes only - FILE PIX
Image for illustrative purposes only - FILE PIX

The Security Offenses Act (Special Measures) 2012 (Sosma) aims, among other things, to curb activities that threaten national security.

In addition, Sosma was enacted to curb activities of a person or group who wanted to overthrow or weaken the country, not to mention that the world today faced new threats across borders.

This included combating organised terrorism (secret societies) and successfully curbing human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

Recently, Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail agreed to review the provisions of the Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).

The unpopular decision invited criticism from many parties after he had previously voiced his opinion not to amend the act.

The action was taken after DAP Deputy Chairman Gobind Singh Deo asked Saifuddin to consider the decision because it was against Pakatan Harapan's (PH) position which did not agree with the mechanism in the act.

In fact, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Legal and Institutional Reform), Ramkarpal Singh also opined that the provision in Sosma would be discussed and reviewed due to various aspects of the provision receiving criticism, especially the issue of limiting the provision of guarantees.

Meanwhile, former Inspector General of Police, Tan Sri Musa Hassan supported the government if they wanted to review the Sosma to make improvements.

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He would protest if the government wanted to abolish the law and thinks Sosma should be maintained because if it was abolished, Malaysia would not have laws to safeguard national security.

In July 2022, former Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin once presented a motion in the Dewan Rakyat to extend the validity period of Subsection 4(5) of Sosma.

In the presentation, Hamzah proposed that it be extended for another five years from July 31 to allow the authorities to continue to use the special power provision according to the relevant subsection.

The move would allow the police to extend the detention period of individuals arrested and detained according to Sosma up to 28 days.

When presenting the motion, Hamzah stressed that Subsection 4(5) of Sosma should be extended to give sufficient time for the police to complete investigations in an effort to deal with threats to national sovereignty, security and public order.

Strictly speaking, investigations involving security offences, especially violent crimes and organized crimes, are complicated and complex and require time to complete.

Hamzah said that the extension of time is needed by the police to obtain the testimony of individuals arrested during the collection of evidence for the purpose of prosecution, including the detection of accomplices who were still at large.

For information, Sosma allows a police officer to arrest and detain any party concerned without a warrant if he is believed to be involved in a security offence.

In addition, bail cannot be granted to a person accused of a security offense and all security offenses can only be tried by the High Court.

However, Sosma is different from the Internal Security Act (ISA) which was abolished by the government on June 12 2012 because the procedure is stricter and cannot be used to make political prisoners.

The offenses in Sosma's First Table are clearly major offenses involving security that cannot be resolved within 24 hours.

Don't we think that the arrest of the suspect will cause other members of the group to flee or get rid of evidence? The same goes for the process of investigating smuggling crimes that involve a wide network that crosses borders.

Therefore, justice needs to be seen in a wider context.

Thus, Sosma needs to be maintained because the security of the country and the people as a whole needs to be given priority.

*Izwan Rozlin is a Sinar Harian reporter