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REFSA Says

Did the Penang UMNO mob commit “acts detrimental to parliamentary democracy”?

e0297d5555990b5778d5fe503c74e9d4When the Penal Code was amended two years ago to introduce the new offence of “acts detrimental to parliamentary democracy”, REFSA was skeptical, and we remain so.

But, yesterday’s tragedy of an UMNO mob’s intrusion into the Penang State Assembly was the very first test for the Attorney General Chamber to invoke that particular provision against these mobs.

The provisions of the Penal Code read,

Section124 – Whoever, with the intention of inducing or compelling or attempting to induce or compel a member of Parliament or of any Legislative Assembly or of any State Executive Council to exercise or refrain from exercising in any manner the lawful powers of such member, assaults or wrongfully restrains, or attempts wrongfully to restrain, or overawes by means of criminal force, or the show of criminal force, or attempts so to overawe, such member shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

and,

12069ac49b544b44f5e0934308636270Section 124B – Whoever, by any means, directly or indirectly, commits an activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to twenty years.

The Penal Code defines “acts detrimental to parliamentary democracy” as activity carried out by a person or a group of persons designed to overthrow or undermine parliamentary democracy by violent or unconstitutional means, according to Section 130A. However, there has yet to be a test case in the courts to for the judiciary to discuss the definition of this phrase, as to what examples could fall within its ambit.

Only by prosecuting those who barged into the Penang State Assembly yesterday can we know the ambit of “acts detrimental to parliamentary democracy” as defined by the Attorney General’s Chambers and determined by Court.

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