Reforms: PH needs to pick up the pace, says ex-ISA detainee

(FMT) – Amanah assemblyman Saari Sungib has questioned the pace at which Pakatan Harapan (PH) is carrying out its promised reforms. 

Speaking to FMT, the Hulu Kelang rep said things were not moving fast enough and called into question the will of the leaders.

“Things are moving too slowly. That is why I am questioning, are the leaders really reformed, especially those who were once in the ruling party?”

Saari, who stepped down as leader of the Otai Reformasi group last July after Amanah pledged to work with Dr Mahathir Mohamad in PH, gave the example of detainees who had been apprehended under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma). 

“The ministry has already said it would review several laws including Sosma, the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, and the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015,” he said.

“There are several detainees who are my friends, and they were detained for politically-related reasons. They must be released immediately until the authorities can prove that they actually committed a crime.”

Adding that the Reformasi movement had started 20 years ago, he quipped: “I am not young anymore, do you expect us to go out and revive the movement?”

Saari, who was once detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA), was arrested along with six other Reformasi leaders in 2001 for allegedly plotting to topple the government. The others were Mohd Ezam Mohd Nor, Tian Chua, Raja Petra Kamarudin, Hishamuddin Rais, Badrulamin Bahron and Lokman Noor Adam.

He told FMT that he had been involved from the beginning with activists from the Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA or Abolish ISA Movement, particularly those from Suara Rakyat Malaysia, to facilitate a meeting between the family members of detainees and the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia.

“From over 20 Sosma detainees, only Mustaza Abdul Rahman dared to share information and documents with us through his wife and family,” he said.

Mustaza, a police lance corporal, was detained under Sosma in 2015 and arrested on suspicion of involvement with the Islamic State. He was sentenced to 12 years’ jail last December.

Saari said after the May 9 election, Mustaza had said that he and his friends were beaten and tortured during the investigation.

In May, Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin reiterated PH’s election pledge to review several laws deemed unnecessary or inappropriate.

These include the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, Sedition Act 1948, Prevention of Crime Act 1959, and the mandatory death penalty.

Calls for Malaysia to do away with the death penalty were renewed at Suhakam’s National Conference on the Death Penalty yesterday, where Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto said there was nothing to stop the new government from abolishing the death penalty if it wished to do so.

However, Saari said abolishing the death penalty was not necessarily the best move.

“What would it mean for new laws to be tabled to replace the death penalty if acts of murder are still rampant?

“I maintain my stand that the leaders of the country must have the moral ground to say that the police are ‘clean’ and are ready to respect the rights of every individual out there.”