AG says home minister ‘absolutely correct’ on terrorist list prerogative, but law demands a review every six months

Debra Chong
Tan Sri Tommy Thomas has clarified that he had not questioned the home minister’s authority in classifying the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) as a terrorist group as is widely believed. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 22 — Tan Sri Tommy Thomas has clarified that he had not questioned the home minister’s authority in classifying the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) as a terrorist group as is widely believed.

The Attorney General said he had given his reasons yesterday for dropping prosecution of 12 Malaysians charged with supporting the group due to the difficulty in obtaining a conviction, and had also pointed that he only called for a review as allowed under the law, The Malaysian Insight reported this evening.

“The minister is absolutely correct. He has the prerogative to gazette or de-gazette any group or individual,” Thomas was quoted saying.

According to the news portal, the AG pointed out that a clause in the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 — which compels the home minister to conduct a review of orders every six months—made it hard for the prosecution to prove its case.

Section 66B(9) of the Act states that “Unless sooner revoked under paragraph (7)(a), the Minister of Home Affairs shall review the orders made under subsection (1) every six months to determine whether there are still reasonable grounds, as set out in subsection (1), for any such order to continue to apply to a specified entity, and if the Minister of Home Affairs determines that there are no such reasonable grounds, he shall immediately revoke the order made under subsection (1) in respect of that specified entity”.

Thomas reportedly said this meant any order declaring an entity as terrorist is not permanent but must be relooked every six months and if there was sufficient evidence to show it was no longer violent, the order should be revoked.

In his exhaustive 11-page statement yesterday explaining the grounds for discontinuing the LTTE case, Thomas said he had found insufficient evidence that would lead to a “realistic prospect of conviction”.

He noted that the materials found on all 12 accused to suggest a link with the LTTE were mere images of its founder Velupillai Prabhakaran, which he said were akin to admiration that did not necessarily translate into terrorist actions.

Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin responded earlier today and said the LTTE had been designated a terror group since 2014 and will remain on the list as the latest information still suggests the group remains a threat to Malaysia’s public order and national security.

He did not indicate if a review had been performed or when.

Twelve Malaysians, including two DAP state lawmakers, were charged under Section 130 of the Penal Code with supporting terrorism for their alleged links to the LTTE and have been held at the Sungai Buloh Prison since.

They are Melaka state executive councillor G. Saminathan, Negri Sembilan assemblyman P. Gunasekaran, corporate CEO S. Chandru, V. Balamurugan, S. Teran, A. Kalaimughilan, S. Arivainthan, S. Thanagaraj, M. Pumugan, R. Sundram, V. Suresh Kumar and B. Subramaniam.

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