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DAP will provide free legal service to challenge constitutionality of obnoxious, draconian and unjust National Registration Regulations providing mandatory minimum fine of RM3,000 or maximum of RM20,000 or three years’ jail for not carrying MyKad
DAP will provide free legal service to challenge the constitutionality of such harsh, obnoxious and unjust law for any person charged under this Regulation, for it has no place in a country which is serious in wanting to create “first-class” mentality – especially when such unnecessarily harsh, punitive and unjust provision is not the result of an Act of Parliament, but the result of regulations drawn up by civil servants without consent and assent from Members of Parliament.
The first reaction of the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Tan Chai Ho to the nation-wide outrage at the warning by the National Registration Department (NRD) director-general Datuk Abdul Halim Mohamed that Malaysians who leave home without MyKad faced “a fine of between RM3,000 and RM20,000 or worse, face up to three years in jail” (the Star 7.7.06) is most disappointing.
Tan said such a law had long existed and there was “no need for the people to create a furore”. (Sin Chew 8.7.06)
Regardless of whether “such a law had long existed”, if it is punitive, harsh, draconian and unjust, it is bounden on the part of the Minister or Deputy Minister responsible to give serious consideration to the public response – what more, when in this case, the delegated legislation in the National Registration Regulations in imposing a minimum fine of RM3,000 or maximum of RM20,000 or three years’ jail is clearly excessive and arbitrary, as well as unlawful and unconstitutional.
It is a rarity even for Parliament to impose mandatory minimum penalties for an offence, as it undermines the doctrine of separation of powers among the executive, legislature and the judiciary by removing the discretionary powers of the judiciary to impose the appropriate sentence for any offence taking into account all the peculiar and mitigating circumstances of the case.
The imposition of a mandatory minimum sentence for an offence was first introduced under the premiership of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, where an offence under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) attracts the mandatory minimum fine of RM2,000, regardless of whether the disclosure was in the national interest to expose corruption or abuses of power.
Mahathir’s intention was not protect the best interests of the nation but a punitive and vindictive provision to deter exposes of corruption and abuses of power in government – where the OSA was used to protect the corrupt and punish the whistleblowers who wanted to expose corruption and abuses of power.
All laws and regulations providing for mandatory minimum sentences, removing the discretionary powers of judges in sentencing, should be repealed.
Section 25(1) of the National Registration Regulations 1990 is the subsidiary legislation of National Registration Act 1959 (Revised 1972) which provides for the enactment of regulations.
Section 6 of the parent Act which provides for the imposition of penalties for any contravention of the regulations states that such a penalty shall not exceed RM50,000 fine or five years’ jail or both, but it does not empower the prescription of a mandatory minimum fine of RM3,000 for an offence under the Act.
The Home Minister, Datuk Seri Radzi Sheikh Ahmad should show that he is a Minister who is responsive and sensitive to public opinion particularly when a draconian, obnoxious and unjust subsidiary legislation like the National Registration Regulations 1990 comes to light by making a Ministerial statement in Parliament tomorrow to immediately suspend the mandatory minimum fine of RM3,000 as punishment for not having Mykad.
Radzi should allay the nation-wide concerns and fears by announcing a new system which accepts photostat copies of the Mykad or substitute documents like the driving licence, allowing for producing the original Mykad within 48 hours if there are legitimate reasons to demand their production.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman