Malaysia Passes Anti-Terror Law Days After Arrest of 17 Suspected Militants

MALAYSIA – It took more than 15 hours for Malaysian lawmakers to decide to pass the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota) Bill, which gives teeth to Malaysia’s fight against terrorism.

The controversial anti-terrorism law was passed days after Malaysian authorities arrested 17 persons, including a 14-year-old boy, suspected to plotting terror acts in the countries capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Opposition, however, criticized the passing of the anti-terrorism law specially that it contains provision that detains a person without trial and was passed after the arrest of the 17 suspected militants.

While the opposition claimed that the new anti-terror law was similar to the repealed Internal Security Act (ISA), Deputy Home Minister Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Wan Jaafar said certain provision in the Pota differed from the ISA, including its executive powers and power of detention.

Among the controversial provision in the law was the detention of a suspect for a maximum of 59 days before being brought to the board, which can then order further detention of up to two years.

Before the passing of the anti-terror bill, Home Minister Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the 17 suspected militants arrested by police last Sunday allegedly targetted police stations and army camps in Kuala Lumpur.

The minister said the suspected militants, aged 14 to 44, aimed to obtain firearms and were also planning to kidnap several high profile individuals.

“They were also planning to make bombs as detailed notes were found which were obtained from Imam Samudera of Indonesia,” he said when winding up the debate on the Pota Bill in the Dewan Rakyat Monday.

Two of the detainees were soldiers, two students, one security guard and two wire men. –