Malaysian government took a significant move towards reinforcing the human rights and political reforms in the country by introducing a legislation that would end indefinite detainments without trial.
The Security Offenses (Special Measures) Bill will repeal and replace the Internal Security Act of 1960, which gave the government power to arrest anyone suspected of being a threat to the national security and detain him without trial for an indefinite period.
The bill was tabled for reading on the parliament's lower house. A minister in the Prime Minister's department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said that he was proud of the new Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill as it empowered the Parliament and provided accountability, according to The Star report.
A lot of power that used to reside with ministers has now been taken away and given to Parliament or the Courts. It provides responsibility and accountability, he told The Star.
According to the new bill, anyone who is detained for security and militancy related crimes can be detained without charges only for a period of up to 28 days and for the purpose of police investigations. The bill also stipulates that no one can be arrested for their political or ideological leanings, Associated Press reported.
There was strong demand from human right activists to repeal the Internal Security Act for years. The rights groups have been accusing the different governments of misusing the act to make politically motivated arrests in the name of national security and insurgency.
Prime Minister Najib Razak had earlier promised that he would repeal ISA before the general elections and the introduction of bill is a clear indication that he is serious about pushing the political reforms in the country.
I am confident (the new law) will give police the powers they need to protect national security and combat terrorism at the same time as introducing new safeguards for civil liberties to ensure the highest standards are upheld, he said in a statement, according to an Associated Press report.
Malaysia has taken a historical step toward upholding human rights, even as countries such as the US had passed bills that allowed authorities to indefinitely detain any person without trial recently.