PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Bar said it abhors detention without trial and views the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (POTA) as a repressive law that is an affront to the rule of law and repugnant to the principles of natural justice. Malaysian Bar president, Steven Thiru, said the proposed bill provided too much authority on a single Inquiry Officer, absolute dismissal of judicial scrutiny, lack of transparency and undefined subjectivity the bill directed at. “There will be no judicial review of the detention order or the restriction order and this violates our constitutional scheme which invests judicial power in the Judiciary. “Words like “engaged”, “commission”, “support” and “involving” have not be defined by POTA, making the reach of the legislation extremely wide and lends itself to abuse,” he said. Under POTA, a person can initially be remanded for investigate detention for a maximum of 60 days and a Magistrate has no discretion to refuse a request by the police for remand. There is also no provision for the person remanded to be informed of the grounds of their arrest and there is no guaranteed permitted legal representation. “POTA also confers draconian powers on the Inquiry Officer who is tasked with investigating the allegations against the accused person and presenting the evidence to the Prevention of Terrorism Board (POTB). “The officer who is not expressly defined in POTA may procure evidence by any means and presents his/her report to POTB without provision for POTB to inquire into the report nor engage further investigations,” he said. Steven also stated that POTB has extensive power as it may grant a detention order of up to two years or a restricted residence order of up to five years which may be subsequently renewed for an indeterminate period. “Moreover POTB hearings will not be held in public means and no provision allowing for a detainee to be present at a hearing would means zero transparency,” he said.