S114A: ‘No abuse pledge’ a nonsense

September 5, 2012

The government has pledged not to abuse s114A of the Evidence Act in the hope that this would soothe criticisms made against it of late. It is somewhat strange but ordinarily such a pledge is unnecessary. All laws are not to be abused. That would be illegal. There is no need for the government to say it. That is the law.

Nazri Aziz is also in no position to make such a pledge. He has no role to play in the investigative process leading to criminal prosecutions. Neither does he have a say in how cases are to be prosecuted. Neither does the government.

So, how do they enforce such a pledge?
The culture of passing laws which are accepted as capable of abuse with pledges of non abuse makes a mockery of Parliament and the legislative process. It cannot and must not be condoned.
History has shown that laws have been enacted in Malaysia with such assurances only to be abused later. A search on Wikipedia reveals the following of and concerning the Internal Security Act:

“The stated purpose of the ISA was to deter communist activity in Malaysia during the Malayan Emergency and afterwards. The first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, defined the purpose of the act as to “be used solely against the communists. My colleagues and I gave a solemn promise to Parliament and the nation that the immense powers given to the government under the ISA would never be used to stifle legitimate opposition and silence lawful dissent”. The third Prime Minister Tun Hussein Onn, stated at the same time that his administration had enforced the act only with a view to curbing communist activity, and not to repress “lawful political opposition and democratic citizen activity”.

It is common knowledge that the ISA was used over and above what it was intended for. It was abused. And this became the basis for which it was later repealed.

It is appalling to note that despite our having learnt that such pledges and promises have in the past proven futile, we still find the government of day, in desperation, making them.
The fact that such an assurance has to be given indicates an acknowledgment that the section is open to abuse.

This is enough for the government to bring the matter back to Parliament so as to put matters right. This is a matter which Parliament and not anybody else, should decide.

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