PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysian Bar will continue to voice its concerns on the continued use of oppressive laws, said its president George Varughese (pix).
He called upon the government to demonstrate full commitment to its election manifesto to abolish oppressive laws without further delay.
“Our legislative landscape need not be a time capsule of our regressive colonial past. These laws ought to be repealed as existing laws are sufficient to address the threats of crime and terrorism,“ he said in his speech at the opening of the Legal Year 2019.
Varughese said if laws were found to be insufficient, the solution lay in amending the existing non-draconian laws or enacting new laws that observe the rule of law.
He said some laws such as the Sedition Act, 1948, the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (POTA), the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (POCA) and the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) contained draconian provisions of preventive detention.
Varughese also said the government must never legislate laws in haste.
He said prior to the 14th General Election, certain laws were rushed through Parliament without going through proper legislation for quality and resilience such as the Anti-Fake News Act 2018.
He said to avoid hurried legislative exercises, the Malaysian Bar called on for Parliament to extend its sitting sessions to allow more time for the tabling of legislation as effecting genuine reforms and strengthening the rule of law required considerable time and effort.
‘In this new era, it is the desire of the Bar not to be perceived as an opposition voice but as a necessary check and balance, as a partner in the administration of justice, and a defender of the rule of law in promoting the doctrine of separation of powers that we hold dear,“ he said.
Varughese said Attorney-General Tommy Thomas had acknowledged the need for reforms to be carried out and the need for assistance from all stakeholders to improve and strengthen legal structures and systems.
“We share the same values as the Attorney-General in always promoting genuine constitutionalism, separation of powers, the rule of law and due process,“ he said.
Varughese said the Bar also hoped more legislative reforms would emanate from the Attorney-General’s Chambers in the areas such as freedom of expression, child marriage, the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and International obligations.
He said dispensation of justice must always be seen to be done and public perception of the Judiciary was paramount.
Varughese said the Bar also called on politicians and the media to refrain from pandering to racial and religious sentiments and to avoid stoking the sensitivities of the rakyat (people).
“Choose instead to lead public opinion, and steer healthy nation building with the intention of improving the lives of all citizens,“ he said. — Bernama