©The Sun Daily (Used by permission)
by Tan Yi Liang
KUALA LUMPUR (June 14, 2012): The Malaysia Law Reform Committee has begun reviewing Section 309 of the Penal Code which penalises those found guilty of attempting suicide, said Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong.
Liew said the committee had been instructed to look into Section 309 about two weeks ago. “We are probably going to invite academic institutions to carry out extensive research,” he said.
Under Section 309, those who survive a suicide attempt or parasuicide, face up to one year in jail or a fine, or both, if convicted.
“We have to look into the history of Section 309. It is a product of the British colonial era. It was not there without reason. We do sympathise with those who attempt suicide and their plight,” Liew said at the launch of the Legal Technology 2012 Exhibition and Forum.
However, he said that some parasuicides may have attempted suicide for reasons that require deterrent action.
Liew said the committee set up in 2009 had examined 63 subjects, including land law and native customary rights in Sabah, and universities.
“Some laws come under different ministries, and we have informed them of our research and they have come in. I am happy that most of the recommendations were accepted by the relevant ministries and incorporated in their amendments.”
To questions about the Evidence (Amendment) (No 2) Act 2012 at a news conference, Liew said it was easy for legitimate owners of online accounts to prove that an offensive post was not made by them but by a hacker.
“While the burden of proof is placed on the owner of the account, it is very easy for them to rebut the accusation by providing an alibi, and to explain themselves to the authorities,” said Liew, adding that tracing the source of a post was difficult.
“I hope that a system can be developed immediately to detect irresponsible posts. This will act as a deterrent. Don’t be too worried, so long as you can explain where you were when the information was posted,” he said.
Under the Amendment, via the insertion of Section 114A into the Evidence Act 1950, internet users are held liable for content posted online through their registered networks, data processing devices or their websites.
Liew, when asked about the Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill 2012, said rules were being drawn up by the Bar Council on foreign lawyers and firms seeking to practice in Malaysia. He said the country should be prepared to accept foreign lawyers and firms by August or September.