ISA vs SOSMA: Which is the Lesser Evil


Jason Chin

Issues regarding the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) has come under the microscope again with the arrest of Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan and lawyer Matthias Chang. Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in his press conference made inference that SOSMA is worse than his Internal Security Act (ISA). Following are some facts about ISA and SOSMA:



Leadership Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak
Arrest without warrant Yes Yes
Initial period of detention 60 days 24 hours but can extend up to 28 days
Can a detained be released before the initial period of detention with strict monitoring while investigations are ongoing? No Yes (with an electronic monitoring device attached to the person)
Is it compulsory to immediately notify the family about one’s arrest? No Yes
Location of the detained known? No Yes
Who can authorize further detention post-initial period? Home Minister (Executive) Attorney-General (Judiciary)
Can the detained stand trial? No Yes
Can a detainee be detained indefinitely without trial? Yes No
Can the detained apply for judicial review of habeas corpus? No Yes
Is the detained allowed to seek a lawyer of his/her choice? No Yes
Is the detained abused physically and mentally?

(Based on statements from past detainees)

Yes No
Is it politically motivated? Yes Possibly yes
Used to crackdown Opposition leaders? Yes No
Renowned politicians arrested under respective Acts – Marina Yusoff

– Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim

– Karpal Singh

– Lim Kit Siang

– Lim Guan Eng

– Datuk Seri Dr. Maximus Johnity Ong kili

– Vincent Chung

– Jeffrey Kitingan

– P. Uthaya Kumar& four other HINDRAF leaders

(* In short if you oppose Mahathir you go to jail)

– Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan



Above are some important pointers. So, is Mahathir right when he claims ISA is better than SOSMA?

You be the judge…