Malaysia’s lower house approves anti-terrorism bill
Malaysia’s parliament has passed a controversial anti-terrorism law that is aimed at cracking down on terror linked to ISIL militants in the South Asian country.
The parliamentarians in the Lower House of Malaysia’s parliament debated the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) bill for nearly 15 hours on Tuesday. The highly debated motion was finally approved after a third reading, with 79 votes for and 60 votes against.
Under the law, authorities will have the right to detain terrorism suspects without charge. Suspects can be first detained for a maximum of 59 days before being taken to the court. The detention can then be extended to up to two years.
Political opposition and rights groups are extremely critical of the new legislation as they believe it limits the civil rights of the citizens, and also makes detention orders immune from judicial scrutiny.
“It introduces long-term detention without trial, is open to abuse and is a grievous blow to democracy,” opposition lawmaker N. Surendran said.
The government pushed for the law following the arrest of 17 people on Monday for allegedly planning to carry out terrorist acts in the country’s capital, Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysian authorities are worried that the ISIL terrorist group is gaining an increasing number of recruits and supporters in the country.
The file photos of Malaysian nationals Muhamad Wanndy (L) and Mohd Faris, who have been identified in an ISIL decapitation video.
Earlier in March, Malaysia’s counter-terrorism police said that they identified two Malaysian nationals in an ISIL video purportedly showing the beheading of a Syrian man.
The government has identified 67 of its nationals who have joined ISIL in Syria and Iraq, and five who have been killed while participating in the group’s terrorist activities.
Malaysian security sources say another 120 people, including men and women, with suspected links to the ISIL are being kept in custody.
The Takfiri group, which controls some parts of Iraq and Syria, has been committing heinous crimes including the beheading of civilians and non-civilians in the areas under their control.