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Ambiga calls on government to put Penal Code, Sosma amendments on hold

Posted: 23 Oct 2013 09:50 PM PDT

Viswaree Palansamy, TMI 

Bersih co-chairperson Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan (pic) wants Putrajaya to put on hold the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2013, and to agree not to gazette it until further discussions are held with concerned stakeholders.

She described Section 203A of the Penal Code as a "muzzling provision", referring to the contentious provision that restricts civil servants from disseminating any information gathered during one's tenure of duty or the exercise of one's functions.

"Amendments always warrant further scrutiny," she told reporters at the Parliament lobby today.

The Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2013 was passed by the Lower House on Tuesday, while the Security Offences (Special Measures)(Amendment) Act 2012 was passed today without changes.

Ambiga said that even lawmakers did not have enough time to pour over the amendments as they only received the copies of the relevant Bills a day before the tabling of its first reading.

"The Bar Council has been asking for Bills in advance for many years and I don't think that is unreasonable if we want to be the so-called 'best democracy in the world'," she said.

Opposition lawmakers had objected strongly to the amendments and warned that the inclusion of two ordinary criminal offences - organised crime and anti-human trafficking - contradicted the government's stand that Sosma was created to curb terrorism activities. Under this law, bail is not allowed and the remand period is 28 days. 


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