|Bar: Sect 114A a lesson to govt|
|Wednesday, 29 August 2012 08:23am|
©The Sun (Used by permission)
by Pauline Wong
PETALING JAYA (Aug 28, 2012): The government should have conducted a public consultation before it tabled the controversial Section 114A of the Evidence (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2012, said the Malaysian Bar.
Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee told theSun today the lesson to be learnt from the furore caused by the amendment is that there is a need to establish a permanent policy on the lawmaking process – either by way of a law reform commission or through public consultation.
He was responding to the announcement by minister in the prime minister's department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz that the attorney-general (AG) would "explain Section 114A" to the public.
"The government should have done this before the amendment was tabled in Parliament," he said.
The amendment, which was gazetted on July 31, presumes owners of registered networks, devices, websites and portals to be the publishers of any seditious or offensive content until proved otherwise, and they will be held liable for said content.
This means the owner of an internet cafe can be held liable if someone uses his Wi-Fi connection to post seditious or offensive material, or commit internet fraud.
The apparent presumption of "guilty until proven innocent" nature of the amendment has sparked an outcry from netizens and various civil society organisations, including the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam).
However, certain parties, such as MCA and Umno Youth, believe the amendment should be maintained as they claim it is in interest of national security and to prevent cyber crimes.
Lim said the reversal of the onus – defendants proving innocence instead of prosecutors proving guilt – is not in the interest of national security.
"A harsh and skeptical critic may say it is more about the insecurity rather than the security of the nation," he said.
"This amendment cuts beyond politics, it is about the weakening of the golden rule of presumption of innocence, and the right to a fair trial. No other jurisdiction has such a provision," he added.
Lim said the Bar met with the AG last week, and would have further meetings to address the issue of anonymity of authors of offensive comments and the balance between freedom of speech, reputation, peace and order.
Those who know not how to lead should not mislead Malaysians by their 'noses'.
written by Tan Peek Guat, Wednesday, August 29 2012 09:43 pm
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