News / Asia

Malaysia Lawmakers Approve Controversial Detention Law

FILE - a police officer checks a man's identity in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
FILE - a police officer checks a man's identity in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
TEXT SIZE - +
VOA News
Malaysian lawmakers have approved controversial changes to a security law that would allow authorities to detain people without charge for years.

Under the amendments approved Thursday by the lower house of parliament, suspects could be held without trial for two years if they are deemed a public security threat. Suspects could be held indefinitely if a panel finds they committed serious offenses.

Prime Minister Najib Razak and his long-ruling coalition vow not to abuse the new powers granted by the changes to the Prevention of Crime Act. They say the amendments are necessary in order to deal with a wave of organized crime.

Those promises have done little to satisfy rights groups and opposition leaders, who say it is a return to a law, repealed just two years ago, that was sometimes used to jail dissidents.

James Chin, a Malaysia analyst with Australia's Monash University, said he thinks such fears are justified, given the Malaysian government's past behavior.

"Under the previous act, called the Internal Security Act, the government initially promised not to use it for political reasons," noted Chin. " But throughout the history of the ISA, the government used that instrument to arrest all the opposition leaders."

Chin predicts that authorities will likely be cautious in using the law against the opposition, at first.

"But during certain times, for example, as we head toward the elections, at times of high political tension, you might see the laws being abused and used against opposition members," he said.

The international rights organization Human Rights Watch said Wednesday the proposed changes would be a "huge step backwards on rights." Phil Robertson, the group's deputy Asia director, said the proposal would "do little to curtail crime, but threaten everyone's liberty."

The changes to the law are expected to be endorsed soon by the upper house and signed by the country's constitutional monarch.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid