Wednesday, August 27, 2008

DNA Bill tabled and opened for debate despite opposition protests

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 26, 2008) : Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar tabled the Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) Identification Bill 2008 for second reading in the Dewan Rakyat today despite protests by opposition MPs.

Fong Po Kuan (DAP-Batu Gajah) led the protests when she asked Deputy Speaker Datuk Ronald Kiandee why the government was being hasty in tabling the bill when the Universities and University Colleges (Amendment) Act was supposed to be tabled first.

“The UUCA Act was given to the MPs in July but the DNA Bill was only tabled for first reading last week on Aug 18. Is this made with mala fide intentions? Is the government having any side motive to this?

“We need time to discuss the Bill and make consultations. The Bar Council also wants to give its input,” she said, in asking for an explanation on the reason for Bill being brought forward and given priority.

Kiandee however said it was nothing against the law as the Standing Order gives the government the right to give priority to and expedite any particular bill which it deemed necessary.

“You have to accept the government’s decision in this matter. The law allows the government to apply its discretion here,” he said to repeated calls by Fong, saying “ada udang di sebalik batu!” (there is a hidden motive involved.)

Kiandee then suggested perhaps it was Fong who has a hidden motive for strongly objecting the tabling of the bill.

Salahuddin Ayub (PAS-Kubang Kerian) then appealed for Kiandee to consider the preparation made by the MPs as most of them had prepared to debate the UUCA Act.

“Can you please consider our preparations, the homework that we have done? We were just informed about this change (the sequence of the bills to be debated) today but we have been preparing ourselves to discuss the UUCA Act,” he said.

For the record, according to today's (Tuesday) and Monday's order paper, the DNA Bill comes first before the UUCA Act after the National Kenaf and Tobacco Board Bill.

But in last week’s order paper, the UUCA Act comes first before the DNA Bill.
Kiandee said preparation is another matter and the BN MPs too were preparing for the UUCA Act but as the chair, he held the right to allow the ministry to table the bill as it is permitted by the law.

Mahfuz Omar (PAS-Pokok Sena) then said: “Mr Speaker must look at the interest of all the MPs, not only at one side of the House.

"The BN MPs have been given a briefing by the Inspector-General of Police recently but we were not invited.”

Kiandee said the briefing had nothing to do with the DNA Bill and asked for Syed Hamid to continue tabling the bill which was opened for debate later.

At the parliament lobby later, Syed Hamid explained the DNA Bill was originally meant to come after the Kenaf and Tobacco Board Bill, but as he was not feeling well earlier, he had applied to the Parliament for it to be debated later.

“There is no sinister motive. Don’t interpret it as having sinister motive.

“It is not intended, as I see, for a particular person and that person is not charged for this Act. That person was charged out of police investigation as they were satisfied that there is a prima facie case and it is up to the court to decide.

“We are not going to use this act to make a person chargeable. That (act) is for general purpose, (so) look forward to it,” he told reporters.

He said the Kenaf Bill was deferred last week to make some amendments and it was passed today.

“So, I followed with the DNA Bill.”

“You (reporters) must remember that this thing (the Bill) has been outstanding for the last eight years and it is not something that is new.

“I think the MPs were concentrating on Permatang Pauh (by-election), they did not even listen to what I was saying.... that it is not only meant for crime but for all sorts of human investigation like missing person, kidnapped persons and disasters,” he added.

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