Why do Opposition lawmakers object to Evidence Act now after approving it in Parliament?
MCA HQ, 16 Aug – With all hype centred on the recently passed Evidence Act of which Section 114A has been put into question, the MCA Central Committee which convened today had deliberated on this topic in detail. Parties under the Pakatan pact have lawmakers at both the Dewan Rakyat and the Dewan Negara and could have at anytime, raised questions to the Executive on the Evidence Act, but they did not. Hence for them to suddenly turn the amendments to the Evidence Act into an issue of controversy reeks of “political dishonesty” as relayed by MCA President Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek when chairing a press conference after the MCA Central Committee meeting concluded.
“This Act was approved in Parliament and was passed in Parliament, fully debated where politicians from both political divides were involved, both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan. They never even requested for a division of votes, just passed through,” informed the party chief before alerting on the inconsistency practised by Pakatan whereby “with the Dewan Negara, the same people who passed these Acts are now questioning the Act. This is some political dishonesty.”
Why didn’t raise issues during when Dewan Rakyat & Dewan Negara in session?
Parliamentary sessions provide the avenue for legislators on both sides of the political divide to speak up against any doubts of any Bills or Acts being debates. However, Pakatan Members of Parliament did not during the debate on amendments to the Evidence Act. “They should have voiced their opinion, objection and asked for block voting. But it went through very easily.”
“Members of Parliament from both divides passed the Act without even calling for a hold of hands. It is wrong for Pakatan to say they objected. They never objected. This was debated and passed in Parliament without the opposition calling for division of votes.”
Evidence Act to protect not victimise
In urging for the recognition of the intent of amendment to the Evidence Act was not mean to make victims out of the public, but on the contrary, to safeguard individuals from cyber bullying, Soi Lek said that “there is a need to look into abuse of internet by unscrupulous people. Cyber crime is becoming more and more common.”
The MCA President later cited the case in America where the internet was abused to bully a person until he committed suicide where the persons were charged. He also provided the example where during the London riots, people who used twitter were charged in court and sentenced to jail.
“Today we talk about cyber crime, cyber terrorism, cyber bullying. There must be safeguards in place to prevent abuse.”
Govt must engage the rakyat
Nevertheless, the MCA Central Committee asserts that the government should engage more with the public especially the internet and social media as to how the Evidence Act will not be subjected to abuse and its implication.
“It would be better if government can come out with clear guidelines of how the Act can be applied. What are the do’s and don’t’s so that innocent victims won’t be punished or penalized. What are the safety and security features that can be installed other than the disclaimer?” Soi Lek recommended.
On the disputed Section 114A, Soi Lek stressed that “the government needs to engage more with the public to ensure the Act will not be abused and has safeguards. Specific guidelines for example, public places which have internet facilities, what sort of guidelines does the owner have that he is not implicated in any wrongful online activity, or security features in your own computer, or place on the hosting in the internet server.”
When asked to comment if the Prime Minister’s instruction had been followed when he said that the Act would be reviewed, Soi Lek responded that “It is a BN collective decision. Evidence Act is to protect the rakyat, not victimize. But the guideline must be clear. In this country, nobody is guilty until proven guilty. You are assumed to be a publisher but you have to prove it in court.”
To a question that the Bar Council had said that going to court is a hassle to the defendant and that is punishment already, Soi Lek refuted. “That’s not true. That’s why we have lawyers to hold justice and not be punished by law, to train and ensure one is not guilty until proven in court. Lawyers should be happy being engaged to uphold the law. It shouldn’t be a hassle the lawyer.” He added that the Evidence Act is to prevent the hassle being a punishment to the victim.