Terror suspects can be detained up to 4 years under new law: Malaysia minister

A Somalian man believed to be a member of a terrorist group known as Al-Shabaab being detained by officers from the Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Unit. Malaysia's new anti-terrorism law will give authorities power to detain terror suspe
A Somalian man believed to be a member of a terrorist group known as Al-Shabaab being detained by officers from the Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Unit. Malaysia's new anti-terrorism law will give authorities power to detain terror suspects for two years, with the possibility of another two years' extension. -- PHOTO: UTUSAN MALAYSIA

KOTA BARU (The Star/Asia News Network) - Malaysia's new anti-terrorism law will give authorities power to detain terror suspects for two years, with the possibility of another two years' extension, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said on Thursday.

"We want to curb such activities by local or foreign suspects in a bid to nip the problem in the bud and this law is needed to contain the activities for national security and interests," Ahmad Zahid told reporters after attending an appreciation event for Civil Defence personnel involved in flood relief efforts in Kora Baru.

The minister, who is in charge of domestic security, said he would table the Prevention of Terrorism Activities (Pota) Bill during the upcoming parliament session this month.

He stressed that Pota was not a revival of the Internal Security Act, which was abolished in 2012, or the Emergency Ordinance. He also said the law would not be abused for political reasons.

"The difference here is that suspects can seek redress in the Courts to ensure that their rights are preserved in the name of humanitarian grounds," said Ahmad Zahid.

"If everything goes well we will be able to enforce the law by year's end," he said, calling for opposition MPs' support for the Bill.

In January, Ahmad Zahid said 67 Malaysians were known to have gone to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group and that five had been killed fighting for the extremist cause, the Malaysia Insider reported.

The minister also said Malaysia was holding 120 people with suspected ISIS links or sympathies.

But according to a report by the Malaysian Insider, lawyers felt the new anti-terrorism act was unnecessary given the wide array of security-related legislation already in place.