Never mind differences over culture, Malaysia has at least one thing that the Indonesian government wants to “copy” — its tough antiterror law. A senior government official says the country is too “soft” on terrorists and is pushing for a Malaysian-style Internal Security Act.
The proposal may not sit well with human rights organizations, which are concerned that unchecked powers to detain individuals for long periods without charge is open to abuse.
Ansyad Mbai, the head of the antiterror desk at the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, said on Monday that police powers to detain a terrorist suspect for just seven days without charge were insufficient, with two years being a more appropriate time frame.
“In Malaysia and Singapore, it is two years before [alleged terrorists] appear in court, so we are surrounded by countries that have a tougher legal process,” Ansyad said.
“That’s why Noordin is operating in this country, because our law is too soft. They have more freedom here,” he said, referring to Noordin M Top, who is wanted in connection with a string of bombings in the country, including the July 17 blasts at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels.
Ansyad was speaking on the sidelines of a high-powered government delegation that appeared before the House of Representatives’ Commission I overseeing defense to push for a revision of Law No. 15/2003 on terrorism, including controversial plans to increase punishment for those who “glorify” terrorism.
Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Widodo AS urged the commission to provide a legal basis for the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) and State Intelligence Agency (BIN) to work more closely with the National Police to better counter terrorist threats, including sea piracy, air hijacking and hostage-taking in remote areas.
Human rights organizations have previously criticized President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for his comments supporting increasing the role of the military in the fight against terrorists, saying some officers might exploit their role for their own interests as during the New Order regime.
The military was used by former dictator Suharto to control civilians and suppress their aspirations in political, economic, social and cultural fields.
Commission chairman Theo Sambuaga, of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), agreed with Widodo that the antiterrorism law needed to be amended to “improve our efforts to tackle” the threat.
Theo said the government needed to create detailed regulations that could be used to combat terrorism in the field by focusing on prevention.
He said the House considered the regulation important because it would elaborate on the rules of engagement between the military and police in countering terrorism. The House also demanded that the government boost its monitoring of funds that could be used to support terrorists, both in the country and overseas.
Besides pushing for longer periods of detention without charge, Ansyad said he was pushing for harsher sentences for crimes such as “glorifying terrorism.”
Widodo said terrorism, as an extraordinary crime against humanity, was a tangible, active and serious threat.
In order to overcome it, he said, a common commitment among people from all walks of life and the whole nation is needed.
“We hope that no single element of society will ignore these common efforts,” he added.