Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Minister must not be messing in judiciary's affairs. Abolish RELA. Increase IOs.

It is sad that the Malaysian government is still increasing the numbers in RELA, when RELA should really be banned.

Why should RELA be banned? Good to have a look at the Malaysian Bar Resolution on this.

What should be done if we need more personnel to patrol the streets of Malaysia and reduce crime, is the increase in the number of police officers and other enforcement officers. Full time, professionally trained personnel, not a volunteer vigilante squad, which seems to be more for political gain of the BN government. I see it as an effort of BN to reach out to especially the youth and middle-aged population in Malaysia, and we see that the appointed leaders are also these politicians.

If there was an increase in the volunteer police force, the 'bosses' would be the current leaders of the police. If it were volunteers in the armed forces, then again, the leaders would be from the armed forces. If it were volunteer fire fighters, then the leadership would be from the fire department. If it were volunteer civil defence, again the leadership comes from the Civil Defence - but when it comes to RELA, we see politicians being made leaders, this certainly is not right. 

Who monitors this RELA? Note that RELA now has maybe more protection from civil and criminal liability than the police. Their powers also may exceed the police. And, they can carry guns...

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, gets it right when he talks about increasing the number of investigating officers in the police force, and decreasing their workload so that there can be efficient investigations carried out. 

Every time a police report is made, the complainant is referred to an investigating officer who will then record a more detailed statement and get more information from the complainant. Every day there are many reports lodged, so the question was when will the investigation officer have the time to the further investigation needed. Now, he still has to investigate 20 cases, over and above the normal work...and, it is good that the government is planning to reduce this to 5. Maybe, no hard and fast rule can be placed - for it really depends on the nature of the cases being investigated, a more serious crime and/or complicated case may require much more time spend on it. We really need much much more trained and competent investigation officers in our police stations, and the government should be recruiting more - not just resorting to bring in retirees.
'specialist teams of high performing judges' - this does not make any sense. Will there be classes of judges now? High-performing and non-high performing? Specialist and non-specialist? Further, in the doctrine of separation of powers in a democracy, judges come under the independent judiciary, and as such the executive has no business interfering in the judiciary. All judges must be good, competent, efficient and most importantly independent, if not they should never be appointed by the King and if they are incompetent, then they must be removed. 

"High Performing" - this is not what we want, if it is based on the number of cases they dispose off in a month or a fixed period. What we need is competent and efficient judges, and it is not 'speed' or 'quotas' that should be the measure, but whether they are acting justly and giving decisions that are just. Pressuring judges otherwise would not only be wrong, but justice would suffer. What Malaysia needs has always been an increase of the number of judges and courts, and in a country of 28 million, we need 280 High Court judges to make it 10 judges for every million, and this will also not meet the Indian quota (about 6 years ago) where it was 10.5, or that in other developing nations where it is about 50 to a million. Just like the IOs, what the government must do is to increase the number of judges and courts, and decrease their existing workload so that they can be more efficiently focusing and disposing the cases before them.

According to Federal Court chief registrar Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, the number of judges in the country was low compared with other Commonwealth nations. 

The Malaysian ratio is 2.4 judges to a million people — a far cry from the ratio in India (10.5 judges), Australia (57.1), Britain (50.1) and Canada (75).- 2.4 judges to a million people


POLICE last year cleared 2,001 backlogged violent crime cases and brought 5,222 suspects to court. 

Clearing backlogged and current cases is one of the most challenging National Key Performance Indicators (NKPI) set in the Government Transformation Programme (GTP)'s Reducing Crime National Key Result Areas (NKRA).

The GTP reported that the toughest area to address was cases involving multiple stakeholders.

Backlogged cases are also generally much more difficult to address with some files stretching back to five years. Clearing the backlog of violent crime cases requires close cooperation between the courts, the Attorney-General's Chambers and police.

The collaboration between the police and the A-G's Chambers during investigations have been enhanced. The aim is for the officers to get guidance in evidence gathering from the deputy public prosecutor (DPP). Supervision from DPPs and senior investigating officers will ensure quality investigations.

The criminal prosecution system has been strengthened through collaborative efforts between the Home Ministry and 30 other enforcement and relevant agencies.

They are looking into deterring the postponement of cases and to ensure that those out on bail do not commit more crimes.

Measures to facilitate the clearance of backlogged cases include:

- Increasing the number and efficiency of investigating officers (IO);

- Identifying high performing officers, hiring retired experienced officers and setting up flying squads;

- Setting up specialist teams of high performing judges; and,

- Accelerating the bill on amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), implementing plea bargaining and tendering witness statements.

The Reducing Crime NKRA, led by Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, is also looking into reducing the workload of IOs to five investigation papers a month.

Currently, IOs handle up to 20 investigation papers a month besides having to look into daily non-core tasks that could distract them from quality investigations.

Increasing the number of IOs in all police departments -- such as narcotics, traffic, forensics and criminal investigation -- by hiring retirees with good performance records will reduce the workload.

A bigger pool will also enable officers to become experts in certain types of cases and crimes.

Part of the NKRA is to train IOs to adhere to standard operating procedures when investigating violent crimes. This is to ensure that IOs gather the necessary evidence for a successful prosecution.

Other initiatives include setting up special courts for street crimes. Such cases will be subject to a new special code (J Code) by the police, the A-G's Chambers and the courts, to speeding up hearings.

Similarly, the workload of DPPs has been reduced to ensure quality prosecutions. They perform two tasks -- to clear investigation papers and conduct prosecutions.

The Reducing Crime NKRA seeks to develop a pool of specialist DPPs for effective prosecution.

Other measures include expanding the court recording and transcribing system to enhance efficiency.

Proceedings are recorded by typists and transcribers, making it easier for judges to approve their trial notes before distribution to lawyers.

Several improvements have been introduced to witness management to ensure their security.

These include separate entrances to prevent intimidation by the accused, as well as police handling to ensure the presence of witnesses in court.

To deter minor and first time offenders from repeating their offences, they are now subjected to tough community sentences designed to rehabilitate them. _ New Straits Times, 28/3/2011, Joint efforts see speedier disposal of court cases



1. On 31st August 2007, it will be 50 years since Malaysia achieved its independence and has been for over 30 years been a peaceful democratic nation.

2. It is sad that Malaysia is still in a state of Emergency as there exist today 4 Proclamation of Emergencies issued by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong that is yet to be revoked.

3. Since independence, five states of emergency have been declared under Article 150 of the Federal Constitution. The first was the only one to have been revoked. The remaining four are still in operation. The second state of emergency was proclaimed in September 1964 when the country was faced with a campaign of violence from Indonesia. Although the threat ceased within less than two years, the state of emergency was never revoked.

4. The next state of emergency was declared on 14 September 1966 following the dismissal of the Chief Minister of the state of Sarawak. No violence - or threat of violence - resulted from the crisis. The government nevertheless proclaimed an emergency, confined to Sarawak. And although the crisis was soon resolved, the state of emergency has not been revoked.

5. The fourth proclamation came on 15 May 1969 following large-scale rioting and racial violence in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, during a general election. The violence led to several hundred casualties. As a result, further elections were postponed and parts of the Constitution suspended. Normalcy was restored soon - the legislature was reconvened and normal constitutional government restored in February 1971. However, the state of emergency has yet to be revoked.

6. On 8 November 1977, the fifth Emergency, limited to the state of Kelantan, was declared following a political crisis.

7. By reason of the proclamation of emergency, numerous legislations were enacted and are still in force, including also :-
a) Emergency (Essential Powers) Act, 1964 (30/64), today known as the Emergency (Essential Powers) Act 1979;
b) Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969;
c) Essential (Security Cases) Regulations 1975

8. For example, Section 6 of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Act 1979, states that “"For so long as the Proclamation of Emergency referred to in the preamble to this Act remains in force, the regulations made under the Emergency (Essential Powers) Act, 1964 (30/64) (except those regulations which the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may by notification in the Gazette declare not to be in force) shall be in force and shall have effect as if they have been made under this Act; and the regulations may be amended, modified or repealed as if they have been made under this Act.". [The proclamation of emergency referred to in this Act was the proclamation issued on 15 May 1969.]

9. The Ikatan Relawan Rakyat or better known as RELA (a People's Volunteer Corps) came into being by virtue of Essential (Ikatan RELAwan Rakyat) Regulations 1966 [P.U. 33/1966], under Emergency (Essential Powers) Act, 1964 (30/64), and continue to be in force by virtue of Section 6 of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Act 1979.

10. By virtue of the Essential (Ikatan RELAwan Rakyat) (Amendment) Regulations 2005, which came into operation on 1 February 2005, the powers of the Rela, have been dangerously over-extended giving RELA personnel the right to bear and use firearms, stop, search and demand documents, arrest without a warrant, and enter premises without a warrant. and all these powers can be exercised the RELA personnel has reasonable belief that any person is a terrorist, undesirable person, illegal immigrant or an occupier. Illegal immigrant and occupier (which would be Malaysians usually) was added on by this 2005 amendment.

11. These not-professionally trained volunteers has also now been accorded protection by the new amendments whereby it is stated that "…The Public Authorities Protection Act 1948 shall apply to any action, suit, prosecution or proceedings against the Ketua Pengarah Ikatan RELAwan Rakyat, Timbalan Ketua Pengarah Ikatan RELAwan Rakyat or any member of the Ikatan RELAwan Rakyat in respect of any act, neglect or default done or committed by him in good faith or any omission omitted by him in good faith, in such capacity."

12. Noting also that there has been numerous complaints that have surfaced in the media about the RELA not just from migrants but also Malaysians ranging from torture, gangster-like behavior, damage to property, wrongful arrest and detention and even the causing of deaths.

13. Its was reported that RELA arrested a total of 17,700 people believed
to be illegal immigrants and screened 94,010 people up to September
2006, and that means 94,010 people (or 76,310) with proper documentations were subjected to unnecessary harassment and their right to a remedy in law is difficult. Of the people arrested, recent reports in the media indicate that many may even not be “illegal” or “undocumented” migrants at all.
* “…six foreign workers, all with legal travel and work documents, were whisked out of their quarters in a resort in Cherating in the wee hours of the morning on Dec 28 last year when RELA members "literally broke into their chalet and ordered them out." (The Star, January 12, 2007).”
* “…a team of 30 to 40 RELA members (half not in uniforms) turned up to look for foreign workers, assaulted some and allegedly stole cash and valuables during the raid. The companies, who lodged police reports, said that all the workers had legal work permits…..”(The Star, December 4, 2006) ·
* “22 workers of an IT company were beaten and made to do a 50m "duck-walk" at Section 30 in Shah Alam…” (The Star, February 16, 2006)
* Residents of about 10 households in Taman Anggerik, Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, complained that RELA personnel crashed into their homes after breaking door locks and smashing gates, and told them that they [RELA] were looking for illegal workers. The residents said the RELA personnel acted like gangsters and showed them no respect. When they asked the RELA personnel to explain why they crashed into their homes, they were told "we are the law." Cash totaling RM3,756 in a drawer was subsequently found missing. (The Star, October 17, 2006)

14. There have also been report of beatings and even deaths caused by RELA volunteers. As an example, in early 2006 it was reported that Ahmad Apik, 35, and Edy Sathurrohman, 26, both Indonesians, lost their lives, and they each left behind a wife and 2 young children. (Star, January 23, 2006).

15. The policy and practice of paying members of the People's Volunteer Corps (RELA) RM80-00 for each undocumented migrant must be stopped (The Star, January 23, 2006). Even MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Michael Chong claimed that the reward offered had made RELA volunteers desperate to nab as many illegals as possible. (The Star January 23, 2006)

15. Malaysia is a developed country and professionally trained enforcement personnel should be used for law enforcement, and the use of volunteers like the RELA must end.

16. Some migrants may be undocumented, but they are still human beings and deserved to be treated humanely and should be accorded equal protection under the law.

17. Malaysia, a party to the April 1999 BANGKOK DECLARATION ON IRREGULAR MIGRATION, which clearly states “Irregular [undocumented] migrants should be granted humanitarian treatment, including appropriate health and other services, while the cases of irregular migration are being handled, according to law. Any unfair treatment toward them should be avoided” must adhere to its commitments.

18. New laws can always be enacted by a parliament in times of peace if needed.

a) That we, the Malaysian Bar, call upon the Yang Di-Pertuan Agung to revoke all existing Proclamations of Emergency in Malaysia;

b) That we, the Malaysian Bar call for the repeal all legislations and Acts that were enacted and continue to be in force by reason of the now existing unrevoked Proclamations of Emergency;

c) That we, the Malaysian Bar reiterate our call for the repeal of Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969 and the Essential (Security Cases) Regulations 1975;

d) That we, the Malaysian Bar specifically call for the repeal of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Act 1979 and all Regulations and Rules made thereunder, in particular Essential (Ikatan RELAwan Rakyat) Regulations 1966 [P.U. 33/1966], as amended by the Essential (Ikatan RELAwan Rakyat) (Amendment) Regulations 2005;

e) That we, the Malaysian Bar call for the employment and usage of only properly trained professional law enforcement personnel in Malaysia;

f) That we, the Malaysian Bar urge that inquests be conducted for Ahmad Apik, Edy Sathurrohman and for the other persons who have died as result of alleged RELA actions;

g) That we, the Malaysian Bar urge that all persons including undocumented migrants and/or refugees be treated humanely and accorded equal protection of the law;

h) That we, the Malaysian Bar call on the Malaysian government to immediately ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families;
i) That we, the Malaysian Bar call on the Malaysian government to immediately ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Proposers: Charles Hector & Francis Pereira, Motion dated 18th February 2007.The motion was unanimously carried at the 61st Annual General Meeting of the Malaysian Bar held at the Grand Ballroom, Legend Hotel, Kuala Lumpur - 17 March 2007

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