TEMPO.CO, Kuala Lumpur - The Malaysian government on Thursday passed an amendment to its Crime Act, sparking protests from human rights activitists in the nation. The amendment to the 1959 law gives authorities the power to hold crime suspects for two years, which was subject to indefinite extension without charges.
Prime Minister Najib Razak's government claimed the police needed this super authority in order to overcome the massive eruption of armed robberies in Malaysia. Preventive detention is a serious issue in Malaysia, whose 56-year-old ruling coalition has been accused of regularly using previous tough laws to silence the opposition.
"It's unconstitutional to us. It takes away the right to liberty. And the law is drafted in such a way that the net can cover everyone," Tian Chua, a senior opposition politician, told AFP.
The amendment moves to be passed despite a pledge last week by the government to consider concerns that have been raised. Although senate approval is still required, it is virtually assured that this law will pass as the Barisan Nasional (National Front) ruling coalition controls the body.
"I assure you again, this would not be used against someone just because we have political differences," Home Affairs Minister Zahid Hamidi told parliament just before it voted.
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