Who should be blamed for the recent frequent mistakes in legislation work?
It is the officials' fault for developing and later withdrawing the subregulation 21 of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (Licensing) Regulations 2005, as they have forgotten the BN's "people first" concept of governance.
Small oil palm holding owners, oil palm merchants and lorry operators do nothing ruthless, why should they face a fine not exceeding RM200,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or both if found to have sold oil palm fruits not fully mature? Even scratch-and-win syndicate members are facing only an imprisonment for a term not exceeding four weeks and fine not exceeding RM100.
Such additional regulations developed in air-conditioned rooms cannot help in solving the problems. They will only end up as a joke.
As for Section 114(a) of the Evidence (Amendment) Bill 2012, it is the fault of the Attorney General's Office for not consulting legal professional bodies, as well as the Dewan Rakyat for hastily passing the Bill.
It was reported that after the government repealed the Internal Security Act (ISA) and other preventive Acts, the newly added Section 114(a) is meant to be used against terrorists and to prevent cyber crimes. In such a case, these laws are highly sensitive and improper handling would lead to human rights and democracy violations, triggering controversies.
The most controversial point of Section 114(a) is, the burden of proof has been shifted from the prosecution to the defendant. This has violated the spirit of fairness. Therefore, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak instructed the Cabinet to carefully study it.
Amending outdated law is an effort of the Prime Minister's transformation plan. However, it should not be done hastily. Since there is a controversy, they should then review or revoke it, instead of blindly insist on implementing it.
Meanwhile, lawmakers should understand their duties. They are paid to make laws in the Parliament, not to play politics. Holding press conference in Parliament corridor, clamoring in the Dewan Rakyat have become their primary job. When it comes to legislation, however, there are errors everywhere.
The Dewan Rakyat had to pass 22 bills in 22 parliamentary meetings in April, including the Evidence (Amendment) Bill 2012. Lawmakers are not supermen or superwomen, it is impossible for them to study every provision of the bills in detail. Therefore, lawmakers from the ruling and alternative coalitions have to divide the job to carefully study them. It is useless to accuse each other after the bills are passed and come into force. They should together fight for revision for the vague Section 114(a).
The lack of time to debate resulted in shoddy legislation. It is also a great irony for parliamentary democracy. The electronic clock in the Dewan Rakyat was unprecedentedly switched off on April 20 and eight bills were passed, including the Evidence (Amendment) Bill 2012. It is a record for the Dewan Rakyat, as well as a shame.
After the Bill was passed, the Elelction Commission (EC) withdrew it in June, giving the reason of resistance from lawmakers on both sides of the political divide. The real reason, however, is because the Bill is unreasonable, including doing away with the need to state the names of the publisher and printer on election material, and expanding the exclusion zone for non-authorised persons from 50m to 100m at polling stations.
It is a stain on the history of Malaysian Parliament to resist and withdraw the Bill after it was passed in the Dewan Rakyat. It has also reflected that we are still far from first-class countries.