Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wan Junaidi: Malaysia under militant threat without ISA

The repeal of the Internal Security Act (ISA) has impacted the fight against militant activities, said Deputy Home Minister Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

He said without the ISA, which allowed for the detention of someone without trial, it was difficult for the security forces to take appropriate action against suspected militants.

Under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 or SOSMA, which replaced the ISA, individuals can only be remanded for 28 days and have to be charged in court after this period.

"And only after they have been convicted by the court, can the individuals involved be jailed.

"But in the movement (militancy), it is not easy to provide proof that is acceptable to the court," Wan Junaidi told Dewan Negara in a reply to Senator Noriah Mahat.

Noriah wanted to know the reason for the existence of militant groups in this country and the holistic approach taken by the government with the cooperation of other countries in stemming the militancy threat.

Wan Junaidi noted that 12 Malaysians had been charged in court for militant activities.

"Eight were released due to lack of evidence. Only four cases are still on trial.

"So, this is among the effects of the abolishment of the much-feared ISA but unfortunately, our country is under threat without the ISA," he said.

Wan Junaidi said among the other factors that led Malaysians to become militants were the desire to help friends fight against what was purportedly for the sake of Islam.

He said there was also the wish to die as martyrs and the believe that involvement in such militant activities was the easiest and fastest way to go to heaven.

He said the authorities arrested 108 individuals of different nationalities since 2010 for their involvement in militant activities.

He said various measures had been taken through the police in curbing such activities, including investigating the activities of groups that aroused suspicion and monitoring of individuals who had been involved in militant groups before.

The deputy minister said the ministry also conducted a series of rehabilitation programmes for the detainees and their family members, besides establishing close cooperation and exchange of intelligence information with foreign security agencies, especially in Asean countries.

To a supplementary question from Senator Datuk Dr Firdaus Abdullah on whether the ISA should be brought back, he said as the Act had already been abolished, the government should move forward by taking various initiatives to stem militant activities.

"We have to live with the current situation and the existing law. What is left for us to do is to improve our intelligence personnel and raise further their capabilities, besides enhancing cooperation with foreign intelligence agencies," he said.

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