No plans to bring back preventive laws: Najib

PUTRAJAYA - There are no immediate plans to bring back already abolished preventive laws, said the prime minister.

The government, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said, had not made a final decision on the reintroduction of such laws, and was only assessing whether existing laws were sufficient to tackle crime effectively.

Speaking to reporters at the Finance Ministry's Hari Raya open house yesterday, Najib said he had already made apublic commitment that should existing laws prove inadequate, they would be strengthened with provisions to safeguard against possible abuse.

Asked on the possibility of reintroducing preventive laws, he replied: "Not yet. We have not made any final decisions."

Najib said intensive discussions among the relevant quarters were ongoing to see whether additional laws were needed.

He said the discussions included the subject of possible infringements on human rights.

"The only problem (involving) preventive laws is that the crime has not been committed yet. How do you arrest someone if that person has not committed a crime?

"If on mere suspicion, are there sufficient grounds to arrest someone on the basis of preventive laws?"

These, he said, were the subjects being debated at the moment. He said the people must be aware that the government was concerned about bringing down the crime rate, as well as curbing possible human rights abuses.

For now, he said, the police and the attorney-general were working closely together within existing laws.

On the rampant shootings, Najib said police were going all out to check the matter and the government was keeping a close watch on the situation.

"We have taken strict action to check crime as the people have voiced their concerns about crimes taking place during the daytime and at public places," he said.

The prime minister also reiterated his promise to strike a balance between protecting individual human rights and public interest to reduce crime.

Najib was speaking in response to former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's comments last week on the removal of preventative detention laws, that the "price of freedom was more shootings".

"We are trying to strike a balance between individual human rights and public interest.

"The government is studying the matter so that individual human rights will not be violated, on top of protecting public interest and public order."