KUALA LUMPUR: The Prevention of Terrorism Bill (Pota) 2015 was passed without amendment at the Dewan Rakyat at about 2.25am Tuesdsay after a debate of more than 12 hours.
The bill was passed after the ninth block voting, with the final voting favouring the government when 79 members of parliament (MPs) agreeing on the bill while 60 disagreed.
Earlier, the bill which was smoothly debated at the policy stage, passed through a difficult committee stage when numerous amendments were proposed by opposition members of parliament to the extent that the debate and winding up stage had extended into the early morning.
The situation was made more difficult when the opposition insisted on amending almost all the 35 Clauses, forcing eight block voting to be carried out for each motion for amendment proposed throughout the debate at the committee stage before the final vote was made to pass the bill.
However, all the block voting ended with the vote favouring the government, thus rejecting the motions for amendment proposed by the opposition. Among the motions for amendments proposed by the opposition were for the rank of the police officers involved in the arrest of any suspected person should not be lower than a Superintendent and for the period of remand not to exceed 14 days compared to 21 days as the proposed in the bill.
The opposition also proposed for several provisions, including under Article 13-28 concerning detention order and restriction be scrapped as they were described as having mala fide (bad intention).
Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi when winding up the debate at the committee stage said the government was not in the opinion that the amendment proposed by the opposition should be made now.
He said POTA should be seen with the eyes of faith to really understand the government’s intention in introducing the law, while at the same time, should not be compared to the Prevention of Crime Act (POCA) 1959.
Earlier, when winding up the debate at the policy stage, Ahmad Zahid said the element of rehabilitation was the main priority in the implementation of Pota.
He pointed out that this was because Pota could not be viewed only from the legal aspect alone as it was more ‘preventive’ in nature.
“The element of rehabilitation on the detainees is a priority. The detention record of the detainees to the extent that the act was abolished, that is, from a total of 10,800 ISA detainees, 90 per cent were successfully rehabilitated,” he said.
Ahmad Zahid also gave an assurance that Pota would not be abused and no one who had political differences of differing opinon would be detained under this law.
“This is the transparency of the present government where we allow the freedom of political differences,” he said.