IGP oversteps his authority to cancel rifle licence — Soo

Lina Soo

KUCHING, Feb 3: The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador has transgressed his authority if he were to revoke lawfully issued rifle licence for firearms owners, said State Reform Party Sarawak (STAR) president Lina Soo.

The IGP had recently announced that all firearms licences will be revoked for the ownership of rifles, a move taken by the police in efforts to stop wildlife poaching, which seems to be on the rise in the country.

Soo, in a statement, said the Arms Act 1960 is a Malayan act enacted before the formation of Malaysia to regulate the licensing and ownership of firearms, and extended to Sarawak and Sabah on Sept 1, 1977, under emergency rule when the Constitution was suspended.

She asserted that it was a unilateral action undertaken by the federal government without the Sarawak Legislative Assembly moving to approve it first, as required when a protecting clause of the Sarawak Constitution is expressly overruled.

“Before the Arms Act 1960 was extended to Sarawak in 1977, though arguably in an unconstitutional manner, the issue of rifles, airguns and pistols licences were under the jurisdiction of the Sarawak constabulary and district office since Brooke reign.

“Even though under the Arms Act 1960, there is an express clause allowing the IGP to revoke the licence, he is not empowered to ban arbitrarily the licence, as under the rule of natural justice,” she explained.

Soo added: “A revocation can be justified only when the licence holder is deemed to have breached the licence condition and found in a court of law to be guilty of the offence.

“This means there is no provision for the rifle owner to surrender his licence unconditionally at the behest of the IGP. Cancelling such licences without first securing a conviction in a court of law is unjustified and unconstitutional.”

She further added that any violation of the law in possession of firearms are provided for by existing legislation. To disenfranchise gun owners who have legitimate justification to own firearms effectively punishes the innocent, law abiding citizen.

Soo opined that while shooting is a lawful and legitimate sporting event in the Olympics, the Asean Games, as well as Sukma (Malaysia Games), as is Formula One race, incidences of alleged poaching is seized as an unjustified excuse to disarm rifles licence holders.

“The right of the people of Sarawak to lawfully possess firearms goes back to its history from Brooke rule, predating Malaysia.

“Any thought to deprive Sarawakians, which still has vast rural population, of their firearms violates the customs and traditions of the Dayak people and dispossesses them of their right to hunt for food, and the means to protect their crops and homes,” Soo said.

She urged the Sarawak government to restore its state right to issue licences for firearms to its own people, as is the tradition and right of Sarawak for more than a century.

“It is not guns and rifles that kill people and animals. It is people who pulls the trigger,” Soo said. — DayakDaily