3 Oct 2013

PCA Panelist or Members Must Have Guts :- Speak and Act Without Fear and Favour

Former MACC advisory panel member also urges government to make amendments to the PCA so that a detention order can be challenged in court.

KUALA LUMPUR: The government should refrain from appointing “shoeshine guys” to the proposed three-member Prevention of Crime Board under the newly passed Prevention of Crime (Amendment and Extension) 2013 Act.

“They should opt for outspoken individuals like me,” said Social Care Foundation chairman Robert Phang.

The Prevention of Crime Board is set to play an important role in the PCA as its members have the power to send a person for a two-year detention without trial.

The board can then further increase the detention period by another two years. PCA prohibits judicial reviews on the board’s decisions except on procedural requirements.

The Prevention of Crime Board is to consist of a former judge of the Federal, Appeals, or High Court, and two other people whose qualifications are not specified.

The government has not mentioned any names to be part of the board.

The amendments to the PCA were passed in parliament late yesterday despite strong objections from Pakatan Rakyat MPs.

Phang however supported the amendments, and said that the Prevention of Crime Board consist of members with judiciary, academic and NGO backgrounds.

The reason being, he said, was that a panelist with legal knowledge would be able to upkeep the making of justice while an academician could provide the philosophical aspect to the law.

“NGO members, on the other hand, will play a good role in check and balance. They are the ones who always go to the ground, they get public feedback and know the sentiments on the ground.

“I propose that panel members be increased to five, and three of them must come from NGO’s.

“The chosen NGO must have the guts to speak without fear or favour. They must be apolitical and be able to provide check and balance to the panel,” he said in an exclusive interview with FMT.

Asked whether he was offering himself to the post, the former MACC advisory panel member said:

“If there is no better candidate, I don’t mind”.

“I am a straight forward person, I speak without fear or favour. If you put me there, please be reminded that I am not a ‘yes’ man,” he added.

‘Allow judicial review periodically’

Phang also urged the government to have a relook at the Act to allow detainees to seek judicial review on a detention order periodically.

“You should allow them to challenge the detention decision. Otherwise, it’s going to be very hard for the people to accept it.

“It gives rise to human rights concerns. You arrest someone, and yet you don’t allow for any review on the decision, it can be a miscarriage of justice.

“Now (the public sentiment) is already 50:50 towards the Act. You think if at the end of the day there is no judicial review, they are going to keep quiet?” he said.

Phang added that he would still want to be part of the panel even if the final version of the law does not contain the term for judicial review.

“Sure, I want to be part of it, I will continue to speak and give feedback on the ground and represent the rakyat voice,” he said.

‘PCA to protect innocent life’

Phang said that since the government has verbally assured that it would not use the law against political dissidents, it should define that condition clearly in the law.

“The moment you use it against political rivals, a review process should take place in the court,” he said.

When confronted with the argument that crime rate has surged in the past when preventive laws were still in place, Phang said one must understand that today’s crime pattern was vastly different with those of yesteryears.

“We cannot deny that now there is a shooting case everyday, and that it does not necessarily involve rich men only, it is frightening.

“Do not oppose for the sake of opposing. Our immediate task is to protect the innocent.

“I ask those who are opposing the PCA, do you want to be the next victim?” he said.

Asked again about the theory that the police should increase its crime investigation department (CID) personnel instead of enacting preventive laws, Phang alluded that such measures may not be effective.

“Changes take place every now and then, today the police may be well-equipped, but we cannot rule out the possibility that gangster heads are able to improve and position themselves better through the use of the internet.

“It is a real war, so right law must come in,” he said.

Source :  http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/10/03/outspoken-phang-offers-to-be-in-pca-panel/

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