BERITA DAILY LETTER: From N Surendran, via e-mail

The Dewan Rakyat is expected to debate today the Prevention of Crime (Amendment) Act 2017. This bill is in breach of the basic principles of natural justice and is thus grossly unconstitutional.

By virtue of clauses 3 and 6 of the bill, the right of the person arrested under POCA to appear before the Inquiry Officer is removed. Therefore, the arrested person will be denied the opportunity to put his case to the Inquiry Officer.

The Inquiry Officer can now make a finding that a person is guilty of the allegations made against him without hearing the person accused!

This is unprecedented in the annals of our criminal justice system. The right to be heard is fundamental under our constitution, and is the cornerstone of every civilised system of criminal justice.

Worse, by virtue of clause 7 of the Bill, the arrested person will not be given a copy of the findings of the Inquiry Officer. His fate will be thus decided in secret, without his presence and without even being told subsequently what those findings are.

It must be remembered that the hearing process before the Inquiry Officer and his findings are of critical importance, as the Board will make its decision whether to make a detention or supervision order based upon the findings of the Inquiry Officer.

This serious violation of the rules of natural justice renders the procedures under the POCA arbitrary and unjust. Such arbitrariness is in clear breach of Article 8 of the Federal Constitution which guarantees ‘equal protection of the law’ to all persons and Article 5 which guarantees the right to life and liberty.

This bill is thus blatantly unconstitutional, and must be withdrawn by the Home Minister.

N Surendran is the MP for Padang Serai

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