Speech by Lim Kit Siang at the DAPSY Public Forum on “DNA Identification Bill – Are We Ready” at the Kuala Lumpur-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on Wednesday, 12th November 2008 at 9 pm: 

I will propose on Dec. 8 that the DNA Identification Bill be referred to an all-party Select Committee to graft adequate safeguards to prevent police abuses and protect human rights, in particular the right to privacy

I will propose on December 8, when Parliament resumes debate on government bills after passing the 2009 Budget, a motion to refer the DNA Identification Bill - given second-reading passage on August 28 – to an all-party Select Committee to graft adequate safeguards to prevent police abuses and to protect human rights, in particular the right to privacy of Malaysians.

The country needs a DNA law to nab the guilty in crime and exonerate the innocent and there should be a healthy national debate on how Malaysia can have the best and most efficient DNA legislation in the world from the perspectives of science, criminology and human rights, learning the experience of other countries with DNA laws.

In Malaysia, however, public debate on the DNA Identification Bill has been overshadowed by grave concerns that it could be used as an instrument of political victimization and repression.

As Malaysia is suffering from an acute multiple crisis of confidence in key institutions of governance (never before in the nation’s history have police reports been lodged against the Attorney-General, the Inspector-General of Police and very soon the Chief Justice), it is beholden on the government to ensure that the DNA Identification Bill can secure the support of all sectors of society and not become a controversial subject of distrust and division among Malaysians.

This can be achieved if the DNA Identification Bill is the result of a fully consultative process involving all political parties and all sectors of society.

This is why the DNA Bill, after its second reading, should be referred to an all-party Parliamentary Select Committee to graft adequate safeguards to prevent police abuses and protect the human rights of Malaysians, particularly the right to privacy.

The DNA Identification Bill is a sloppily drafted bill (in one instance referring to a proposed section that does not exist) which has failed to take into consideration the important principles of efficiency, accountability, transparency, good governance, human rights and the rule of law.

At a time when public confidence in the police is at an all-time low, (aggravated by the continued police objection to the establishment of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission – IPCMC – as proposed by the Royal Police Commission to create an efficient, incorruptible, professional world-class police service), what justification is there for proposals that stipulate that both the head and deputy head of the DNB Databank must be police officers, giving the police the power to “use all means necessary” to compulsorily take non-intimate DNA samples, with the information from the DNA Databank “conclusive proof” and not challengeable in any court of law.

Something is very wrong if the Barisan Nasional government is not prepared to do anything to ensure that the DNA Identification Bill ceases to be a controversial and divisive piece of legislation but can have adequate safeguards to answer all legitimate concerns and reservations.

For this reason, I hope that both the Cabinet and BN MPs would rise above party politics and support the reference of the DNA Identification Bill to a Select Committee to come out with an accerptable DNA legislation, as well as an accompanying Data Protection Bill which I had been asking in Parliament in the past two decades.

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor