EMERGENCY ORDINANCE: Preventive Law to Combat Crime Needed

BY the middle of last year, the Emergency Ordinance (EO), a preventive law that allows the police and Home Ministry to detain a person for two years and can be renewed after two years without trial and place him or her in detention centres, was repealed.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had said the government was ready to make changes in the law. This decision was a victory for human and democratic rights.

However, for the research team on crime and policing at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), we knew that the country was going to see a surge in violent crimes, especially those involving gangs and recidivists (repeat offenders), based on our research on this matter.

In 2010, this team, based on a study conducted on crime, recommended that the Restricted Residence Act be repealed as it was ob-solete in modern Malaysia, whereas the EO should be sustained, with amendments to prevent abuse by the authorities.

The EO is a preventive law that was developed to deal with subversive and criminal elements which threatened national security.

Although it has been criticised as draconian, inhumane and undemocratic, it cannot be denied that the EO served its purpose in dealing with terrorists, secret societies, gangs, recidivists and organised crime members since its implementation in 1969.

Most of the detainees under the EO in the last three decades were alleged to have been involved in gang activities, extortion, kidnapping, gaming and executing operations for crime bosses. Almost 2,000 criminals were released after the repeal of the EO last year.

Since then, according to the police and as reported in the media, most of them are back in business.

However, they are now more daring and commit crimes openly. The crimes are violent, inhumane and cruel.

According to reports, these criminals display their gang identities and symbols during funeral processions, community activities and religious events.

They fear no one, including the police, and this means that if anyone happens to be in the wrong place or time, the innocent party may end up injured or killed.

Let us not ponder if we have given up a little of our liberty and democratic rights, so that these criminals could have been prevented from committing crimes.

We, the research team from USM, would like to ask citizens: “To what extent are we willing to give up safety for the sake of liberty and democracy?”

Malaysia is going through a transitional phase from a developing to developed nation.

All sorts of changes are experienced by this nation as we progress.

We have a track record of being a safe nation, but if we do not equip our authorities with tools to deal with criminals, we will not win the war against crime.

A preventive law similar to the EO, with checks and balances and without any room for abuse, must be reconsidered by all.

Even if such a law is implemented, this does not mean that the police and other law enforcement agencies can take crime prevention for granted.

There are many aspects of crime, where offenders can be charged under criminal laws. The law should be used only for specific crimes. This law is not meant to be a shortcut for investigating criminal cases.

It is to keep away violent gang members, recidivists and organised crime members, who are good at beating the criminal justice system.

If we do not act soon, then please be prepared to see the further erosion of safety and peace by criminals.

Associate Professor Dr P. Sundramoorthy, Principal researcher, Research team on crime and policing, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang

Read more: EMERGENCY ORDINANCE: Preventive law to combat crime needed – Top News – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/top-news/emergency-ordinance-preventive-law-to-combat-crime-needed-1.306912#ixzz2Xoa8ZFNn

Leave a Reply