Malaysia repeals two security laws, frees 125 suspects

Updated On: Oct 06, 2011

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak repealed two security laws on Monday, in the government's latest move to abolish laws widely viewed by critics as draconian.

The 1933 Restricted Residence Act, requiring a person to live in a certain area or barring them from an area, and the 1959 Banishment Act, which allows non-Malaysians to be banished from the country were both repealed, however, repeal of the ISA - which allows virtually indefinite detention without trial -will only be begun next year.

"The two new acts will try to find a balance between human rights, individual rights, civil liberties while guarding the nation's security and harmony," Mr Najib told parliament.

"I believe that with these actions, Malaysia will be among one of the countries whose practice of democracy is respected by other countries."

Malaysia's strict laws on security have faced growing condemnation for stifiling political dissent.

Report: Malaysia PM moves to repeal security laws (CNA, 3 October 2011)

On Wednesday, 125 criminal suspects were released, many of whom had never been charged. Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein assured Malaysians that the release of the suspects would not threaten the public.

The latest moves come as Mr Najib tries to boost his United Malays National Organisation's uncertain re-election hopes three months after police used tear gas and water cannon to crush a street rally calling for electoral reform.

Veteren opposition politician Lim Kit Siang said proof of the government's commitment to change will be seen in how the repeal of tougher laws like the ISA is handled.

"The question remains as to whether they will really abolish the ISA and other laws that impinge on civil liberties and the freedoms of speech and assembly, and whether the replacement laws will be any better," he told journalists.

Mr Najib is widely predicted to call snap elections soon. He will face a fractured opposition that has gained popularity since Malaysia's last general elections in 2008.

Report: Malaysia PM orders 125 freed in reform drive  (AFP, 5 October 2011)

Report: Malaysia frees 125 suspects in security law repeal  (AP, 5 October 2011)


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