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Malaysia – Southeast Asia Security Laws

In 2011, the Government of Malaysia abolished the Internal Security Act 1960 and the Emergency Ordinance 1969. However, in 2013, it reintroduced provisions under these two abolished laws through extensive amendments made on the Prevention of Crime Act 1959. Some of these changes include: a suspect is not guaranteed access to a legal representative when questioned by an inquiry officer (Section 9A); no judicial review of the decision of the Board except on procedural compliance (Section 15A); detention without trial for a period not exceeding two years, which may be renewed for repeated periods of two years if necessary in the interest of public order (Section 19A(2)); no information or documents will be released if considered against public interest (Section 21A).

Two more security laws were enforced in 2012 – the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 and the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012. The Peaceful Assembly Act prevents non-citizens and persons below 21 years of age to participate in assemblies (section 4(1)(d)), places undue onerous responsibilities on organizers of public assemblies (section 6), increases the powers of the police to change conditions of an assembly (sections 15(1) & 16(2)), and restricts the number of places where assemblies are permitted to take place (First Schedule, section 3). On the other hand, the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act allows a suspected person to be detained for an initial 24 hours and extendable to another 28 days (section – 20). There is also no judicial oversight for extension of detention under this law (section 4(5)) and the detainee has no right to legal representation for up to 48 hours (section 5).

Other security offences may be found in the Penal Code, which covers Offences against the State (Chapter 6) and Offences against the Public Tranquility (Chapter 8); the Anti-Money Laundering Act which covers the suppression of terrorism financing offences and freezing, seizure and forfeiture of terrorist property; as well as the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act, which deals with the trafficking and unlawful possession of firearms.