Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak [official profile] initiated the repeal of Malaysia's strict security laws [JURIST news archives] in Parliament [official website] on Monday. In an effort to protect civil liberties while maintaining a balance of public peace [AP report], Razak is expected to repeal the Internal Security Act of 1960 (ISA) [text, PDF], which allowed the prime minister to order the imprisonment of individuals deemed to be a threat to national security for a period of up to two years without a trial. The Restricted Residence Act of 1933 [text, PDF], which allowed police to control and monitor suspects of theft, illegal betting and gang affiliation, has also been suggested for repeal. The move has been criticized by opposition leaders as having political intentions for the upcoming elections, while civil rights activists support the pledged repeal, but fear new security laws will follow. The lower house is expected to pass the bills this month, then submit them to the Senate and finally to the constitutional monarchy for ratification.
The prime minister had originally announced the repeal of the two strict security laws [JURIST report] that had allowed extended detention of suspects without trial, as well as review other laws dealing with freedom of the press, in September, but they have been tabled over the past month. These efforts have been made in response to criticism for alleged rights violations. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention [official website] recommended [JURIST report] last year that Malaysia repeal or amend its internal security laws