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The police, Immigration Department, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and the Customs Department are well equipped to counter terrorism. -NSTP File pix /SUPIAN AHMAD

MALAYSIA has maintained a tough security stand against terrorism. However, it also recognises the need for a softer approach — moderation — to manage this global issue.

There is no shortcut to eradicating terrorism. Besides capturing the terrorists, the rootcause of terrorism must be addressed.

Several strategies have been adopted: enhancing intelligence and international cooperation; introducing legislation; mobilising law enforcement and border security; protecting national key infrastructures; conducting outreach programmes; and improving crisis management.

Conducting outreach programmes is a fundamental approach to root out the key cause of terrorism. By listening to groups that are suspect, and those who feel economically and socially marginalised, we can eradicate the pool that terrorism feeds on.

Malaysia has laws to deal with terrorism: Penal Code, Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) 2015, Special Measures against Terrorism in Foreign Countries Act 2015; Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, Prevention of Crime (Amendment and Extension) Act 2014, and the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters among Like-minded Asean Member Countries 2004.

The police, Immigration Department, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and the Customs Department are well equipped to counter terrorism.

The National Security Council, under the Prime Minister’s Department, is responsible for formulating national security policies and their implementation by the government agencies.

The Home Ministry oversees police’s efforts to counter terrorism and extremism in cyberspace via the Counter Messaging Centre (CMC).

The success rate of deradicalisation strategies and rehabilitation programmes is between 95 and 97 per cent.

According to the Special Branch, 481 individuals, including 48 women, have been arrested for alleged involvement with IS. CMC’s monitoring of social media saw 266 people arrested up to last month.

The Foreign Ministry has formed the Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism to develop capacity building and enhance public awareness programmes on counterterrorism in the region and beyond.

Under the National Blue Ocean Strategy, a national coordinating body, the National Special Operations Force, was formed in 2016 to act swiftly against terrorist threats. It combines and shares resources from the police, military and MMEA.

In line with the United Nations’ Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, Malaysia is developing its own National Plan of Action.

The rise in the number of kidnapping for ransom cases in the Sulu Sea is alarming. Joint maritime operations between Asean countries should be heightened and expedited to disband
such groups.

Malaysia recommends intelligence updates on the irregular movements of suspected criminals as one of the main sources of information to track down terrorists. This should be a shared effort among member nations.

Malaysia’s ultimate aim is to ensure regional peace. Sharing of intelligence and systematic collaboration among member nations are key to achieving regional peace and sustainability.

Together, we can make Asean a better place for everyone.

SENATOR KHAIRUL AZWAN HARUN

(These are excerpts from the writer’s speech ‘The Rise of Terrorism, Extremism and Radicalisation’ delivered at the 10th Asean Inter-Parliamentary Caucus in Kuala Lumpur on June 17.)

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