Repeal of the EO: Najib must admit blunder, lack of preparation

Minister in the Prime Ministers Department Nancy Shukri says the government is prepared to enact new laws to replace the Emergency Ordinance if necessary in order to deal with the problem of escalating crime.

This is in response to criticisms, also from the police, that the repeal of the Ordinance has resulted in a sudden spike in crime throughout the nation.

The government should accept and concede that it's earlier decision to repeal the Ordinance was hastily made, without proper study nor due regard for the consequences which would follow in such event.

I have raised this before. I have asked the government to explain what it planned to do given the fact that the repeal of the Ordinance would result in the release of hundreds if not thousands of persons said to be hardened criminals, back into society.

In Parliament on Monday, the Home Minister said in response to a similar question from me that a total of 1476 persons have been released from detention under the Ordinance since its repeal. When asked what steps the government has put in place to monitor those released, the Minister slips in a quick response, short and uninspiring, which is that the police will "watch over them". He gives no details of any proposed steps nor programs which have been put in place to deal with the situation. He gives no details of rules or regulations which will be used to monitor these persons and more importantly how the government proposed, at the time of the repeal of the Ordinance, to deal with them if they returned to their criminal ways.

This is a somewhat poor response to my question. Surely the government cannot expect us to believe that a mere watching over of those released would be sufficient to deal with the situation. Even the thought of monitoring their activities itself wouldn't inspire confidence as we are talking about a large number of persons whose activities would spread out far into society.

Now, it would appear that the Najib administration was overly concerned with populist decisions when the decision was taken to repeal the Ordinance. His government failed to put into place measures to deal with the sudden release of these persons back into society.

He should not now hide behind complaints by the police to convince us that preventive laws are necessary to justify bringing back the Ordinance. He should acknowledge that the problem isn't the result of the repeal of the Ordinance alone but a combination of very many factors and the failure of his government to find solutions to all these problems before repealing it.

Bringing back the Ordinance would be wrong as Parliament moved to repeal it because it involved detention without trial which led to serious abuse over the years peaking with the totally unjustified detention of the PSM 6 in 2011.

What is now required is a complete overhaul of the laws which relate to police powers and detention. The government should now go back to the drawing board and come up with a holistic plan to solve this problem at all levels.

It would therefore appear that the problem is not the repeal of the Ordinance itself but the failure on part of the government to find measures which would have dealt with the consequences following from its repeal and whether he likes it or not, the Prime Minister should now acknowledge this and take full responsibility for it.

Gobind Singh Deo MP for Puchong