KUALA LUMPUR | Despite being passed by the Dewan Rakyat only two months ago, the Human Resources Ministry wants to make further amendments to the Industrial Relations Act 1967 over a “draconian” provision.

Its Minister M. Kulasegaran (pic) said Section 50 of the law is similar to Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma), which does not grant bail to an accused person arrested for or charged for illegal strikes or lock-outs when it comes to trade disputes.

“This is similar to Sosma, detention without trial…draconian in nature. We have had many consultations but no one highlighted Section 50 to us,” Kulasegaran told The Star.

Section 50 (2) reads: “Notwithstanding any other written law, bail shall not be granted to an accused person arrested for or charged with an offence under this part and in respect of whom the public prosecutor certifies in writing that it is not in the public interest to grant bail to such accused person.”

Kulasegaran added that although the recent amendments to the Act were passed in Dewan Rakyat in October, changes can still be introduced as any Bill brought to Parliament is “not cast in stone”.

“I don’t know how we missed it. I only knew it as I was going through the Act again.

“It is such a major flaw that needs to be done away with. I will raise the amendments (to Section 50) in the next March sitting,” he said.

The fate of amendments to the Act now lies with the Senators in the Dewan Negara which is currently in session.

Kulasegaran said although Section 50 has not been used against anyone in recent decades, it is best to make amendments to it, to be in line with the best practices of the world.

When asked to comment on Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC)’s call that the Dewan Negara should reject the amendments to the Act passed in the lower House, Kulasegaran said his ministry is in the midst of engagement with the senators.

The minister said his ministry has conducted a series of engagement with various stakeholders, including the MTUC, thus, allegations the amendments were made in haste were unfounded.

Kulasegaran said the Sarawak and Sabah MTUC chapters, as well as 62 other unions, are agreeable to the changes made to the Act.

“But the MTUC in the peninsular is unhappy with the amendment. There are many amendments that bring benefit as well as a certainty to both employers and employees,” he added.

The MTUC had previously said the proposed amendments were tabled in Parliament without the endorsement of the labour centre and Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF).

MTUC said the minister should have received the consensus from the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) on the amendments before tabling the proposals in Dewan Rakyat on Oct 7.