It is unfortunate that some politicians have been using Yazid Sufaat’s case as a comparison with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) detainees’ case without bothering to get their facts right. There are several misconceptions about Yazid’s case, as listed below.  

  • Yazid was detained under the then Internal Security Act (ISA) for eight years in relation to his purported involvement in the 9/11 incident (which has never been proven in any court of law).
  • Yazid was later re-arrested and remanded under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (SOSMA) for terrorism-related allegations. He was denied bail and tried in court under SOSMA despite the objections by his legal team vis-à-vis the constitutionality of SOSMA.
  • Unlike now, there were no strong objections by politicians (who are now in power) back then when SOSMA was used against Yazid and a few others.
  • After a few challenges against SOSMA in court, Yazid’s legal team was able to dispute the terrorism allegations against him. The allegations of spreading terrorist ideology and recruiting terrorists had never been proven and the charges were then withdrawn by the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC). Upon the representation submitted by his legal team, an alternative charge was brought against him for not providing information to the authorities, to which he pleaded guilty and accordingly, served the sentence.
  • After serving his time and upon his release, Yazid was re-arrested on vague allegations by the authorities under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA).
  • Yazid challenged his detention under POTA before the advisory board but was unsuccessful.
  • At no point in time was Yazid found guilty of being a terrorist or spreading terrorist ideology.

Hence, it is unfair to compare Yazid’s case with the LTTE case without an appreciation of all the facts. If at all, Yazid’s case is another clear example of how SOSMA and POTA could be abused by the authorities. To question why Yazid is being released is unfair to him. 

The objection against SOSMA and POTA should be premised upon human rights principles and not based on this kind of comparison.

Those who oppose laws that allow for detention without trial should oppose its use against everyone, including Yazid Sufaat and the LTTE detainees, regardless of race, religion, or political ideology.

Excerpts from this article were quoted by Malaysiakini.