It was a given that the PCA Amendment Bill will be passed in Parliament, knowing that BN has the majority of votes. Sideshows included criticisms levelled at opposition MPs for not attending (some were actually overseas) to at least show their strong opposition (even if it was unlikely to affect the voting); and the support given by MCA and Gerakan for the Bill, despite their earlier show of opposition to it.
As usual, we have many doubters about the new law (which we have been repeatedly given assurance by ministers that it was unlike the old ISA), but reading the article below, we have reasons to believe the doubters more than the ministers:
In The Sun: What is in a name? by Natalie Shobana Ambrose
"When the Internal Security Act was repealed, many applauded. Sceptics, however, knew such forward measures would be short lived and they are right.
This week Parliament debated on the return of preventive detention adding revisions to the Prevention of Crime Act to lower the crime rate – so it seems. The problem is there is no surety that these laws will not be open to abuse.
It may be easy to look at the amendments as curbing crime but on the reverse, it can be used to impede civil society and civil movements. What does that mean?
According to reports, one can be placed in detention for up to two years (renewable) and without the right to legal representation with a limited scope of appeal."
"The PCA amendments cannot be looked at in isolation either. The Penal Code is also being beefed up with the government proposing that 5-15 year prison terms be made mandatory for promoting a false national flag and "vandalism", the definition of which includes the displaying of banners or placards without permission, to carry a three-year prison term. There also seems no way out of this as the proposal includes curtailing the judges' powers to favour the minimum mandatory sentences."
"But you might say, that's not going to happen because we've got an oral assurance that such abuse will not happen. See, that's the funny thing about gentlemen's agreements – not many of the people giving us these assurances are gentlemen.
Even if they are, what will happen when they are no more in power to give such assurances? The bottom line is that the law supersedes as it should and this is the very reason why such amendments should ring alarm bells because repealing the ISA and adding such amendments to the PCA only begs the question "what is in a name?"
For more and examples of likely scenarios: