Malaysia proposes long detention to deter terrorism

KUALA LUMPUR - Long periods of detention await those who are involved or commissioned to carry out terrorist acts under a proposed new law.

The Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2015, tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, proposes that such persons be detained for up to two years with another two-year extension option.

Following this, the detention order can be further prolonged from time to time for periods not exceeding two years at a time.

The detention order is to be issued by a Prevention of Terrorism Board. A person can be held for up to 59 days before the board decides whether to issue an order.

The board can also impose a restriction order on a person in terms of his activities, freedom of movement or place of residence or employment, for a maximum of five years at a time, which can be extended by another five years.

No judicial review is allowed on the board's actions and decisions including proceedings by way of an application for a declaration, injunction, writ of habeas corpus and legal suits.

The board will comprise at least five members who will be appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong with the chairman to be a person with legal qualification and with at least 15 years experience.

The Bill, tabled by Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, also states that no person should be arrested and detained solely for political belief or activity.

The proposed law, which will be known as the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota), is primarily aimed at addressing the Islamic State threat and stemming terrorist activities in the country.

Under Section 24 (1) of the Bill, those listed under the register of criminals are prohibited from consorting or habitually associating with each other unless he or she can prove that they were not aware that the other person was also in the register.

A breach of this provision is a crime which can be punished with a jail term of not less than five years and not exceeding 15 years.

Any registered person who is found loitering in public places between the hours of sunset and sunrise, found in the company of two or more registered persons, or found at or near any place where an act of violence had just been committed, will be committing an offence.

If the person is unable to satisfactorily account for his presence at such situations, he shall be liable to a maximum jail term of five years, a fine of up to RM10,000 (S$3,707) or both.

Meanwhile, anyone who has received training from terrorist groups, including being taught to make or use explosive devices, can be jailed up to 30 years and fined under proposed amendments to the Penal Code.

The Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2015, tabled yesterday, seeks to make it a crime to receive training and instruction from terrorist groups and persons, aside from outlining other new offences related to curbing terrorism.

Such training or instruction involves making or using any explosive or lethal devices, carrying out a terrorist act or being in the practice of military exercises or movements.

Five more Bills were also tabled by Dr Ahmad Zahid and his deputy Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar to deal with the growing domestic and international threat of terrorism.