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Sunday, 28 July 2013

“No” to Preventive laws but “yes” to enhancing Police investigative powers

Denison, Prof Faruqui, Tun Zaki & Steven
Proham Press Release

Proham hosted a Roundtable Discussion together with the University Malaya, Law Faculty on July 25, 2013 which was attended by about 35 people including lawyers, academicians, civil society representatives, concerned citizens and media personal.
Among those who are participated were Tun Zaki Azmi (former Chief Justice),Dato KC Vohrah (Former Court of Appeal Judge) Tan Sri Zaman Khan (Former Commissioner of Police and CID Chief), Prof Emeritus Dr Shad Faruqi, Mr James Nayagam (Suhakam), Mr Steve Thiru (Bar Council), Mr K.Arumugam (Suram), Mr Eric Paulsen (Lawyers for Liberty), Dr Abdul Samad (UM Law Faculty) and from Proham: Datuk Kuthubul Zaman, Dato Siva Subramanium, Ms Ivy Josiah, Dr Lin Mui Kiang and Datuk Vaithilingam. The RTD was moderated by Proham secretary-general, Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria

It was a fruitful discussion with an exchange of ideas. The focus of the discussion was whether the Police needs preventive laws (detention without trial) to address serious crime in Malaysia. There were those who spoke for the need to return to an EO type of legislation in order to address the rise in crime in Malaysian society.
However the dominant position held by a majority of the speakers was not to enact laws which provided ‘detentions without trial’ but to enhance the capacity of the Police to use the existing laws provided for in the Penal code and the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 or enact a law similar to the United States legislation, the racketeer influenced and corruption organisations act which has proved successful against organised crimes like gambling, robbery, money laundering etc.

Ten Key Findings from the Roundtable Discussion

 First, there is a strong consensus view that the Police needs support, encouragement and appreciation in undertaking difficult tasks in crime prevention. Critical review of the role played by PDRM does not mean our disrespect or disregard of the Police force. Our aspirations like those highlighted in the Police Commission Report are for world class policing.

Second, it must be noted that crime in Malaysian society especially organised crime is at a serious level and this is creating a sense of insecurity in our society. However we do acknowledge that there seems to be some conflicting data on the rate of crime released by Pemandu on the NKRA targets that crime was down in 2011 and 2012 but later in recent discussions this year it is being noted that there is a rise in crime due to the release of former EO detainees in 2011/2012. There is no credible evidence in the public dominion on the rise in crime associated with the release of EO detainees.

Third, those who are advocating a position against ‘detention without trial’ are not pro criminals nor soft on crime. On the contrary it is felt that we must be tough on crime. But the best way towards this is bringing the wrong doers before the courts in open trial. This was felt to be the strongest deterrent as tough laws in themselves do not serve as a deterrent as we note in the case of the Dangerous Drug laws. It was pointed out that the key is not “the severity of the law but the surety” or in other words “not the severity of the punishment but certainty of the punishment” 

Fourth, it was clearly articulated by a number of the speakers that there are currently adequate laws available to the Police in Malaysia. A good piece of legislation which had been neglected due to the over reliance on the EO is the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (Revised 1983).

This act is meant to provide for the more effectual prevention of crime in Peninsular Malaysia and provides for the control of criminals, members of secret societies and other undesirable persons. It provides for 28 days remand for investigations and conducting an enquiry. An additional 28 days could be requested for. Part II of PCA, makes provision for an Inquiry officer appointed by the relevant Minister and the registry of persons who could be subjected to Police supervision. The current registrable categories could be extended in the schedule by the Minister. It has to be noted that there is concern whether some provisions are entirely constitutional.
Fifthly, the Penal Code was amended in 2012 with a new provision Chapter VIB to address issues pertaining to ‘organised criminal groups’. This was done in the light of the repeal of the EO and therefore anyone involved in organised crime or is assisting an organised criminal group can be charged under these provisions.

Sixth, there is now no provision for detention without trial in the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) which replaced the ISA and which deals with terrorism and national security The Act provides for 28 days detention for investigative purposes. If this is step is taken by the Federal Government how can there be a return to detention by Ministerial order in the case of criminal activities?

Seventh, there are contradictory information on manpower and resources available in PDRM for criminal investigations and crime prevention. It was pointed out that less than 15% of the Police manpower is involved in crime investigations and therefore there is insufficient manpower, finances, facilities and equipment’s. In addition there were questions raised on the quality of supervision and training of investigative officers including the lack of forensic training and equipment.

In this context both PDRM and KDN must review Chapter 8 of the Royal Police Commission report which makes 26 different recommendations to improve investigative policing. If effectively implemented, it will enhance PDRMs performance in crime prevention.

Eight, concern was raised on the lack of preparation on the part of both the Prisons Department and PDRM when the EO detainees were released without adequate preparation for the rehabilitation and entry into society. It would have been possible with the information available on the detainees that they could have been registered under the Prevention of Crime Act and placed under Police supervision
Nine, that in addressing serious crime, the root cause of crime must be also addressed which requires socio-economic intervention programmes to address inequality, urban poverty, lack of adequate and affordable housing and ensure equal opportunities in education and employment. This social inclusion agenda will prevent new recruits into gang related activities. This agenda is beyond the role of policing and therefore a multi-agency intervention is necessary in cooperation between the Department of Welfare, Department of National unity and the Department for Youth and Sports.

Tenth and finally there must be a close partnership between PDRM, civil society, grassroots-communities and private sector in addressing serious crime. The community dimension is important but the engagement must bridge the ‘deficit of trust’ between enforcement authority and the citizen. This partnership can be built on the foundations of human rights.

Therefore, Proham calls on the Federal Government to address serious crime through effective use of investigative policing and not resort to preventive detention. We must strive for world class standards in Policing. 

Issued on behalf of Proham by Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (Proham Secretary General) & Datuk Kuthubul Zaman (Proham Exco). (Proham blog: Email contact:
July 28, 2013

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