Monday, August 04, 2008

No suspension of government servants and university students who claim trial...

Reading a NST report that more Immigration Officers have been arrested and charges, there is a doubt whether the DG of Immigration have been CHARGED in court, and then released on bail - or are they still on police bail only, yet to be charged in court.

The first to be detained in the operation on July 11 was the Immigration Department director-general Datuk Wahid Md Don, 56, who was charged and later released on bail.

The following day, Wahid's deputy, Yusof Abu Bakar, and Yusof's brother-in-law who acted as a middleman, were also arrested. Both were also charged and released on bail.

In follow-up operations, the ACA arrested two more Immigration officers with the rank of deputy directors.

Following their arrests, Wahid and Yusof were reassigned to the Public Service Department reporting directly to its director-general Tan Sri Ismail Adam, pending completion of court proceedings - New Straits Times Online, 4/8/2008 - Four immigration officers, two middlemen arrested in I-Kad 'kenduri'

Well, normally when public servants are charged in court, I believe, that they were suspended from work with half pay until the end of their criminal trial. If you are at the level of the DG of Immigration, it would cause some hardship - but not really as much as public servants in the lower income group.

In this case, it seems that the DG had been reassigned to another department - and one assumes with full pay.

To be fair, all public servants charged with a criminal offence should not be internally disciplined and/or punished until the end of their criminal trial when and if they are found guilty. The presumption of innocence until proven guilty should apply, and it is draconian to suspend workers with half wages just because they have been charged with a criminal offence. More so in Malaysia, when it can really be very long before your criminal trial can begin and end unless some DPM or former DPM is involved or it is a case that has obtained a lot of media attention.

It was also wrong to suspend them university students who were charged with the offence of illegal assembly until the end of their trial.

All persons are equal before the law - and that means that all persons will be visited with the same punishment provided for in that law if they are found guilty - not anything more or less because they were university students, public servants, etc..

Hence, the practice of suspension of public servants and university students from the time they get charged in court (and claim trial) until the end of their criminal trial must be stopped.

The legal maxim "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" must be given its full meaning in Malaysia.

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