DNA Identification Bill – motion to refer it to Select Committee on Dec. 8

I will propose on December 8, when Parliament resumes debate on government bills after passing the 2009 Budget, a motion to refer the DNA Identification Bill – given second-reading passage on August 28 – to an all-party Select Committee to draft adequate safeguards to prevent police abuses and to protect human rights, in particular the right to privacy of Malaysians.

The country needs a DNA law to nab the guilty in crime and exonerate the innocent and there should be a healthy national debate on how Malaysia can have the best and most efficient DNA legislation in the world from the perspectives of science, criminology and human rights, learning the experience of other countries with DNA laws.

In Malaysia, however, public debate on the DNA Identification Bill has been overshadowed by grave concerns that it could be used as an instrument of political victimization and repression.

As Malaysia is suffering from an acute multiple crisis of confidence in key institutions of governance (never before in the nation’s history have police reports been lodged against the Attorney-General, the Inspector-General of Police and very soon the Chief Justice), it is beholden on the government to ensure that the DNA Identification Bill can secure the support of all sectors of society and not become a controversial subject of distrust and division among Malaysians.

This can be achieved if the DNA Identification Bill is the result of a fully consultative process involving all political parties and all sectors of society.

This is why the DNA Bill, after its second reading, should be referred to an all-party Parliamentary Select Committee to graft adequate safeguards to prevent police abuses and protect the human rights of Malaysians, particularly the right to privacy.

The DNA Identification Bill is a sloppily drafted bill (in one instance referring to a proposed section that does not exist) which has failed to take into consideration the important principles of efficiency, accountability, transparency, good governance, human rights and the rule of law.

At a time when public confidence in the police is at an all-time low, (aggravated by the continued police objection to the establishment of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission – IPCMC – as proposed by the Royal Police Commission to create an efficient, incorruptible, professional world-class police service), what justification is there for proposals that stipulate that both the head and deputy head of the DNB Databank must be police officers, giving the police the power to “use all means necessary” to compulsorily take non-intimate DNA samples, with the information from the DNA Databank “conclusive proof” and not challengeable in any court of law.

Something is very wrong if the Barisan Nasional government is not prepared to do anything to ensure that the DNA Identification Bill ceases to be a controversial and divisive piece of legislation but can have adequate safeguards to answer all legitimate concerns and reservations.

For this reason, I hope that both the Cabinet and BN MPs would rise above party politics and support the reference of the DNA Identification Bill to a Select Committee to come out with an acceptable DNA legislation, as well as an accompanying Data Protection Bill which I had been asking in Parliament in the past two decades.

Speech by DAP Parliamentary Leader and MP for Ipoh Timor Lim Kit Siang at the DAPSY Public Forum on “DNA Identification Bill – Are We Ready” at the Kuala Lumpur-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on Wednesday, 12th November 2008 at 9 pm

  1. #1 by All For The Road on Thursday, 13 November 2008 - 2:59 pm

    What needs to be said? The DNA Identification Bill is lop-sided , callously drafted and unacceptable to the people. It only favours the BN government. It will be a laughing stock of the country if it becomes law!

  2. #2 by CSKUEH on Thursday, 13 November 2008 - 3:35 pm

    The recent spate of ISA arrests has made the people not amused
    It is indicative that the DNA law is also liable to be abused
    The DNA law is good and useful when it is properly used
    It must be made foolproof to prevent it from being misused

  3. #3 by hadi on Thursday, 13 November 2008 - 4:09 pm

    With the current situation, DNA will definitely be abused.
    In GOD we trust.

  4. #4 by hiro on Thursday, 13 November 2008 - 6:17 pm

    BN MPs save for Najib should be very afraid of the DNA bill – it can be used to coerce them into cooperating with UMNO. The bill allows for use of violence to obtain samples, unfettered ministerial powers, and cutting off judicial review. How could BN stand for such a bill, I really question their sanity.

  5. #5 by monsterball on Thursday, 13 November 2008 - 10:19 pm

    Meanwhile…..swearing by the Koran is accepted as truthful evidence.
    Why UMNO never.. talk about Vision2020 anymore?
    They created it….and know…the have destroyed that vision…themselves.
    Presuming we agree….swearing by the Koran is truthful.
    Then Najib said he received 900 complaints on UMNO corruptions.
    He said easy to complaint…hard to proof.
    Has he not shown the way!!
    He should ask all 900 to swear by the Koran….and that becomes truth…and that give him reasons to act..like sacking one…..and show to Malaysians..he mean what he says..and says what he mean…as our future PM.
    If that UMNO person sacked is not satisfied….he can file a police report on that person swearing….it is true…and let them fight in out in court.
    UMNO controls everything….can act or not to act…on police report…and can even set up a kangaroo court..for a result…they wish to have.
    That’s why…they keep fooling Malaysians….and in the end…is daily exposing…..what big hypocrites they are.
    Malaysians need to live with all these a little longer.
    Come 13th election…lets finish them off. More than 50 years.no change of government is simply…not logical.

  6. #6 by undergrad2 on Thursday, 13 November 2008 - 11:58 pm

    Some ask what’s the fuss over this DNA?

    The “fuss” is over the possible abuse and misuse of the DNA profiles of citizens in a DNA database which will be collected starting with convicts and those arrested perhaps for alleged crimes etc. and eventually will involve the population at large. Once the database is complete and if access is freely given, then employers and insurance companies would access DNA profiles of employees, for example, to find what their genetics would tell them. It would lead to discrimination etc.

    This is not to mention the deliberate abuse of DNA profiles to criminalize innocent citizens guilty of nothing beyond traffic offences.

    We have to do the balancing act and weigh the benefits that come with the use of DNA in investigating crimes with its misuse and abuse. The issue of privacy is another and though it does not figure prominently in everyday discussions today may in the future decide the course of our elections.

  7. #7 by passerby on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 1:53 am

    The gov. must first demonstrate that it will use the DNA to put the real criminals behind bars. Otherwise, the people cannot trust the gov. to have another weapon to abuse the defenseless people.

  8. #8 by cemerlang on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 11:02 pm

    There will come a time when genuine truth is needed. How true can it be if one swears by a religious book ? How true can it be if the lie detector malfunctions ? How true can it be if evil is stronger than the good ? Even DNA testing can be tricky. It is not 100 % full proof if you ask the DNA researchers. But it is the nearest to the truth that one will ever get.

  9. #9 by ktteokt on Saturday, 15 November 2008 - 1:09 pm

    Why bother to have DNA Act when the PM himself is so ignorant about DNA? Remember what he said about DSAI’s DNA being “too old”? And we still proclaim ourselves to be a “negara berdasarkan sains dan teknologi” according to the RUKUNEGARA! What a big Joke!

  10. #10 by ktteokt on Saturday, 15 November 2008 - 1:13 pm

    And perhaps the DNA Act should be first used against the two “criminals” of the Mongolian case. Since we cannot identify them physically as no one has seen their faces, perhaps using DNA to identify them would be a more appropriate way! Did the AG ever consider this?

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