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Lawyers group urges 'custodial abuse victim' Anwar to intervene in Sosma row

Lawyers for Liberty asks how a government led by Anwar Ibrahim can 'blindly defend' the controversial law.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
Prime minister and Pakatan Harapan chairman Anwar Ibrahim.
Prime minister and Pakatan Harapan chairman Anwar Ibrahim.

Rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today urged Anwar Ibrahim to ensure that the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 or Sosma is immediately reviewed or repealed, noting that the prime minister himself was a victim of custodial abuse following his fall from power in 1998. 

In a statement, LFL director Zaid Malek urged the Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman to break his silence on the issue which arose earlier this week, when Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution said the government had no intention of reviewing the controversial law despite PH's resistance to it during the coalition's time in the opposition. 

"Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim was himself a famous victim of custodial abuse after his fall from power in 1998, and was often on the receiving end of oppressive laws," he said. 

"How is it that a government led by Anwar is blindly defending Sosma?"  

Saifuddin said at a press conference on Dec 13 that Sosma allowed the court process to take place, and compared it to its predecessor, the Internal Security Act, saying that under Sosma, the period is "only 28 days". 

He also said that arrests under Sosma were only done on "reliable intelligence and evidence". 

His remarks sparked a chorus of concerns, including from his colleague in PH, Gobind Singh Deo, who said they were against the stand of the coalition which had all along acknowledged Sosma as an oppressive law. 

Saifuddin however maintained his stance, saying on Dec 15 that there was no current need for amendments to be made. 

Zaid said Saifuddin's latest response was "contradictory and nonsensical", zeroing in on the minister's admission that some parts of Sosma need amending and his insistence nevertheless that the law would not be reviewed just yet. 

He said Saifuddin had also failed to explain why he and his colleagues in PH voted against Sosma in Parliament earlier this year but now appeared to be defending the law. 

"Has Sosma been magically purified because they are now in government?" he added. 

Urging Anwar to intervene, he said the prime minister must ensure that the PH-led government sticks to its stance on Sosma after years of publicly opposing it.