Counter-terrorism in Malaysia

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Counter-terrorism in Malaysia is a series of measures implemented in Malaysia to detect and prevent terrorism as well as to minimise damages from such terrorist acts should they occur. These measures involve all levels of security services including military, police, border and infrastructure security, civil defence, medical readiness and psychological preparedness. Malaysia also participates actively in international counter-terrorism efforts. Malaysia has experienced sustained terrorism threats from 1948 until 1989, particularly from the Malayan Communist Party. The Internal Security Act 1960 (repealed 2012, replaced with Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012) was enacted to prevent terrorism in Malaysia.

Need for legislation[edit]

Due to the nature of modern terrorism threats, it is no longer feasible to rely on the existing criminal law provisions. With information travel across the globe in a matter of minutes, evidences are getting more and more obscure and personal liberty is being misused, it is imperative for the Malaysian Government to enact a separate law to deal specifically with terrorism threats.

Generally, the need for anti-terrorism laws can be summarised as below:

  • Provide legal framework for dealing with elements of violence, treachery and other actions, deemed detrimental to national security and public order.
  • Empowering the Malaysian Government to undertake pre-emptive actions against perceived terrorism threats.
  • Preservation of Malaysia's character as a multi-cultural and multi-religious nation, where preservation of peace is of paramount importance to ensure continued economic growth.
  • Existing criminal laws may impede investigation due to bureaucratic processes and procedures.
  • Provision for expanded scopes of investigation to cover intrusive surveillance, enhanced monitoring and prolonged detention that might contravene with the provision of Article 5 of the Federal Constitution.
  • Underline the role of security forces, public prosecutors, judiciary and law practitioners in the event of invocation of such anti-terrorism laws.

Historically, Internal Security Act 1960 was enacted in 1960 by the administration of Tunku Abdul Rahman, then Federation of Malaya's Prime Minister to deal specifically with the threats of armed resistance from the communists. The main features of the Internal Security Act 1960 were:

  • Detention without arrest warrant or trial.
  • Detention period of up to 60 days, after which, the Home Minister may renew the period every 2 years.

The controversy surrounding the Internal Security Act 1960 led to the abolishment of the Act in 2012 by the administration of Dato' Seri Najib Tun Haji Razak and it is replaced by the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012,[1] with shorter detention period and more explicit terms related to the exclusion political activities from being subjected under the new Act. However, access to legal counsel (Section 5(1)(b)) can be delayed for up to 48-hours, subject to authorisation by a person not below the rank of Superintendent of Police (Section 5(2)).

History of legislation[edit]

Prior to the enactment of the Internal Security Act 1960, there is no specific anti-terrorism legislation in place. The closest resemblance of an anti-terrorism provision is Chapter VI of the Penal Code (Act 574),[2] related to offences against the State.

With the onset of World War II looming in the Pacific theatre, the Japanese army invaded Malaya on December 8, 1941. The Japanese Occupation of Malaya lasted for 4 years and throughout the occupation period, the Japanese army was constantly harassed by the Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA), a group of resistance fighters from the Malayan Communist Party.

Following Japanese surrender on August 16, 1945 after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, MPAJA fighters came out of their hideouts in the jungle and many were initially hailed as heroes. However, before the return of British forces to Malaya, MPAJA fighters began their reprisal campaign against Japanese collaborators and civilian population. When the British re-established their control of Malaya, the MPAJA was disbanded and arms returned to the British Military Administration (BMA), an interim administration outfit prior to the formation of Malayan Union.

During this period, the Malayan Communist Party began to become more anti-British. With the post-war world's economy still in its recovery period, the British administration in Malaya faced growing resentment, particularly from the labour unions. At this stage, the Malayan Communist Party had infiltrated the labour unions and kept up the pressure on British administration. Following the murder of 3 European planters in the State of Perak and proclamation of the state of Emergency on June 16, 1948, the British administration had finally banned the Malayan Communist Party on June 23, 1948. Many party members were arrested and top party leaders went into hiding in the jungle to avoid arrest. The Malayan People's Anti-British Army (MPABA) was formed to fight the British in Malaya. The MPABA was later renamed to the Malayan People's Liberation Army with the stated goal of establishing a republic in Malaya and Singapore on February 1, 1949.

The British administration was constantly ambushed by the communists during the period of 1949 to 1955. In 1955, the first general election of Malaya was held and Tunku Abdul Rahman became the first Chief Minister of the Federation of Malaya. Towards the end of 1955, the Federal Government held a peace talk with the Malayan Communist Party, which broke down due to the refusal of the Federal Government to legally recognised the party and demanded its dissolution. The fight continued until the Federation of Malaya achieved her independence on August 31, 1957.

The Malayan Emergency was declared over on July 31, 1960 and the first anti-terrorism law was enacted in the same year, known as the Internal Security Act 1960, to provide sweeping power to the Federal Government to deal with the threats of armed communists resistance.

With the cessation of armed communist resistance, formalised through the peace agreement between the Malaysian Government and Malayan Communist Party on December 2, 1989, critics argued that the Internal Security Act 1960 is no longer relevant and should be repealed. Under the administration of Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the Internal Security Act 1960 has been invoked on a number of occasions to quell dissidents. This has prompted the United States to expressed concern over the use of the law.[3]

In 2011, the administration of Najib Razak has agreed to repeal the Internal Security Act 1960,[4] after facing growing disapproval from members of the opposition parties and civil groups. The Internal Security Act 1960 has been replaced by Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012.

Effectiveness of legislation[edit]

Malaysia has been largely spared from any major terrorism incidence since the signing of peace accord with the Malayan Communist Party. However, after the terrorist attack on World Trade Centre and Pentagon in the United States on September 11, 2001, Malaysia is facing growing threats from regional terrorist groups, the most notable is Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). The effectiveness of anti-terrorism efforts in Malaysia is dependent on cross-agencies cooperation as well as international cooperation in terms of intelligence sharing and training in handling the threats of terrorism.

Agencies involved[edit]

  • Malaysian Special Branch - Providing internal and external intelligence on security threats.
  • Royal Malaysia Police - Enforcement of provision of law and providing logistic and handling of terrorist suspects.
  • Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT)[5] - providing training and enhancing the capacity of enforcement, security and government officials on counter-terrorism issues.

List of terror incidents[edit]

These are among the incidents related to terrorism in Malaysia.

1950s[edit]

  • February 23, 1950 - Bukit Kepong Police Station in Muar, Johor was attacked by the communist terrorists, resulting in the death of 14 police officers, eight auxiliary police officers and four family members.
  • October 6, 1951 - British High Commissioner, Sir Henry Gurney was ambushed by Malayan Communist Party at Fraser Hill, resulting in his death and other police officers wounded in action.

1970s[edit]

  • June 7, 1974 - Inspector General of Police, Tan Sri Abd. Rahman Bin Hashim was murdered by a communist terrorist in Kuala Lumpur.
  • August 5, 1975 - The Japanese Red Army terrorists attacked the AIA Building in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, holding more than 50 people hostage.
  • August 27, 1975 - A bomb exploded at the National Monument, Kuala Lumpur, causing extensive damage to the monument.
  • November 13, 1975 - The Perak State of Police Commissioner, DCP Tan Sri Khoo Chong Kong and his driver, Sergeant Yeung Peng Chong was murdered by two communist subversives at Fair Park, Anderson Street, Ipoh, Perak during en route to police headquarters after going to lunch.
  • December 4, 1977 - Malaysia Airlines Flight 653 was hijacked by a suspected Japanese Red Army terrorist, en route to Singapore International Airport. The flight crashed at Tanjung Kupang in the State of Johor, killing all passengers. The case remain unresolved.

1980s[edit]

  • November 19, 1985 - The Malaysian Government laid siege to a village in Memali, Baling, Kedah as a local religious preacher, Ibrahim Mahmud a.k.a. Ibrahim Libya was accused of spreading deviant teaching and challenging the integrity of the Federal Government. The incident resulted in the death of 14 civilians and 4 policemen.

2000s[edit]

  • July 3, 2000 - A terrorist group known as Al-Ma'unah stole over 111 military firearms and ammunitions at two control posts at the Kuala Rui Territorial Army Camp, Perak and hid in the jungle at Bukit Jenalik, Sauk, Perak.
  • November 4 - State Assemblyman for Lunas state constituency in Kedah, Dr. Joe Fernandez was shot dead by a suspected member of a religious terrorist group.
  • August 4, 2001 - 75 members of a nascent militant group, Kumpulan Militan Malaysia (KMM) were arrested. Top leaders, Dr. Azahari Husin and Noordin Muhammad Top fled to Indonesia. Also arrested was Nik Adli Nik Abdul Aziz, the son of Kelantan's Chief Minister.
  • September 11, 2001 - Following al-Qaeda's attack on World Trade Centre and Pentagon, Yazid Sufaat and Suhaimi Mokhtar were arrested in Malaysia for their roles in the attack.
  • October 12, 2002 - Malaysia arrested 6 members of Jemaah Islamiah in connection with terrorist attack in Bali, Indonesia.
  • April 1, 2009 – A Jemaah Islamiah leader, Mas Selamat was arrested at Kampung Tawakal, Skudai, Johor Bahru. He escaped from Whitley Detention Centre in Singapore on February 27, 2008.

2010s[edit]

  • February 8, 2013 - Yazid Sufaat and Halimah Hussein were arrested for "inciting terrorist acts at a house in Ampang between August and October 2012".[6]
  • March 1, 2013 - Two police officers being gunned down and three more officers wounded in an unexpected "white flag" ambush by armed terrorists from Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo during the 2013 Lahad Datu standoff. 12 terrorists also killed with four more injured as a result of the skirmish.
  • March 2, 2013 - An armed terrorist believed to be less than 10 in number armed with automatic rifles such as AK-47 and M16 ambushed the police officers during a surveillance operation at Kampung Sri Jaya, Simunul, Semporna, Sabah, resulting six officers perished in an assault. Six terrorists were fatally shots after the remaining officers launched the counter-attack for self-defence.
  • March 3, 2013 - One of remaining terrorist personnels who responsible to killed the police officers at Semporna, Sabah were beaten to death by villagers after he attempt to take them as a hostages.

Milestones[edit]

1940s[edit]

  • June 16, 1948 - State of Emergency was declared, marking the beginning of the Malayan Emergency.

1950s[edit]

  • December 28–29, 1955 - Peace talk between Federation of Malaya Government and Malayan Communist Party in Baling, Kedah.

1960s[edit]

  • August 1, 1960 - Enactment of the Internal Security Act 1960 by the Federation of Malaya Parliament.
  • September 16, 1963 - Application of the Internal Security Act 1960 was expanded to Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore.
  • May 7, 1965- An army elite Grup Gerak Khas was formed
  • October 23, 1969 - An elite 69 Commando (Malay: Komando 69) of Royal Malaysia Police was formed under training by British 22nd SAS Regiment.

1970s[edit]

  • January 1, 1975 - An elite Special Actions Unit (Malay: Unit Tindakan Khas; UTK) of Royal Malaysia Police was formed in secret.

1980s[edit]

  • April 1, 1980 - An elite HANDAU of Royal Malaysian Air Force was formed
  • October 1, 1982 - An elite PASKAL of Royal Malaysian Navy was formed.
  • December 2, 1989 - Peace accord between Malaysian Government and Malayan Communist Party was signed in Hatyai, Thailand.

1990s[edit]

  • An army counter-terrorism force 11th Rejimen Gerak Khas (RGK) was formed under training by British 22nd SAS.
  • June 1, 1993 - Royal Malaysian Air Force restructured the elite force and changed the name of HANDAU with the newly name known as PASKAU.
  • October 20, 1997 - Pasukan Gerakan Khas (PGK) was formed, combining the 69 Commando (VAT-69) and Special Actions Unit under one wing.

2000s[edit]

2010s[edit]

  • September 15, 2011 - Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak announced the repeal of the Internal Security Act 1960.[7]
  • June 22, 2012 - Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Act 747) was gazetted.

Special units[edit]

At the forefront of the battle against terrorism are specialised military, law enforcement, and civil defence units, namely:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.parlimen.gov.my/files/billindex/pdf/2012/DR152012E.pdf
  2. ^ http://www.agc.gov.my/Akta/Vol.%2012/Act%20574.pdf
  3. ^ http://2001-2009.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2008/sept/109958.htm
  4. ^ http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/najib-announces-repeal-of-isa-three-emergency-declarations
  5. ^ http://www.searcct.gov.my/
  6. ^ http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2013/2/8/nation/20130208141715&sec=nation
  7. ^ http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2011/9/15/nation/20110915205714&sec=nation

External links[edit]