Saifuddin Nasution: Paving the way for a safer Malaysia?

02 Dec 2023 07:33am
Saifuddin Nasution. Bernama FILE PIX
Saifuddin Nasution. Bernama FILE PIX

SHAH ALAM – The Home Ministry in the country is responsible for various aspects, including law enforcement, public security, public order, population registry, immigration, foreign workers, and anti-drug activities

Despite not being able to defend his Kulim-Bandar Baru seat during the 15th General Election, current Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail was sworn in as a Senator before Dewan Negara Speaker Tan Sri Rais Yatim on Dec 3.

Now, let’s dive into what went on throughout his one-year tenure as the Home Minister.

Announced plans to strengthen the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma)

The move sparked immediate pushback from advocacy groups like Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet) which questioned Saifuddin’s understanding of the rule of law and called for his resignation.

Accused by journalists of reneging on the Pakatan Harapan coalition's promise to dismantle 'draconian Acts,' including the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) 1984

Critics, including the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), suggest this retention signifies a recurring tendency of elected officials to abandon their reformist mandates post-election for perceived political gain

Big hoo-haa over Home Minister’s crackdown on LGBTQ-related products

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Under Saifuddin's leadership, Malaysian authorities seized 164 rainbow-colored watches from the Swatch Pride collection in May.

The act drew international attention and commentary from the Swatch Group CEO, who defended the message of peace and love associated with the watches.

Despite the seizure, Swatch Malaysia vowed to continue their sales strategy, leading to the dissonance between corporate defiance and governmental policies.

On Aug 10, Saifuddin oversaw the prohibition of all Swatch products featuring LGBTQ themes under the newly minted Printing Presses and Publications (Prohibition of Undesirable Publications) Order 2023.

This ban, which carries severe penalties for possession, including imprisonment and fines, highlights the ministry's hardline approach to content deemed "prejudicial to morality."

Strengthening Malaysia’s ties with neighbouring countries

Under Saifuddin’s helm, the ministry fostered collaborations to combat transnational crime and promoted regional stability, earning Malaysia's global respect.

Malaysia had been recognised as a responsible and proactive player in addressing security concerns.

Focus on cybersecurity to combat potential cyberattacks

As the world grapples with an ever-evolving digital landscape, the Home Ministry, under Saifuddin’s guidance, has taken substantial strides in fortifying Malaysia's cyber defences.

Recognising the potential threats posed by cyberattacks, Saifuddin has prioritised enhancing the country's cyber infrastructure and bolstering its resilience against digital threats when he announced that the government will form a new task force to oversee the country’s cybersecurity.

The task force would comprise multiple agencies, including the police, and would come under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

Malaysia has fallen prey to several cyber attacks in recent years, including the disruption of systems at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport last month.

In 2017, authorities confirmed the data breach of 46.2 million records which include identification card numbers, addresses, and mobile numbers.

Last year, more than 16 million malware threats were reported in Malaysia, placing the country at the top of the list for such attacks in South-East Asia.

This accounts for an average of 45,000 malware threats per day in the country

Bodycams on cops by 2025

This is a long-awaited one; Saifuddin announced that body-worn cameras (BWCs) are expected to be fitted on policemen in the first quarter of 2025.

In Oct, he said that the ministry is currently in the procurement process of the cameras.

On Feb 21, Saifuddin said the 7,648 body cameras that would be fitted on police personnel are estimated to cost between RM2,000 and RM2,500 each.

He said the gadgets would be fitted on officers across 157 district police headquarters nationwide.

Saifuddin’s tenure as Home Minister under the Madani government had been characterised by significant achievements, with a focus on international collaboration, cybersecurity, social harmony, and counter-terrorism efforts.

As the minister continues to navigate these turbulent waters, the international community and human rights observers will undoubtedly keep a close watch on Malaysia's legislative evolution under his tenure.