‘We can expect legal reforms’
Friday, 11 May 2018

The Star

by Victoria Brown 

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians can expect legal reformation under the new Pakatan Harapan government.

Former Malaysian Bar president Christopher Leong said Pakatan has promised to abolish several oppressive laws and introduce new ones if it forms the federal government.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said during the run-up to the elections that his government would repeal several laws, such as the Anti-Fake News Act 2018, Sedition Act 1948, Prevention of Crime Act 1959, Uni­versities and University Colleges Act 1971, Printing Presses and Publica­tions Act 1971, National Security Council Act 2016, and any law with the mandatory death sentence.

He also promised to abolish “oppressive” provisions in laws such as the Penal Code, Commu­ni­ca­tions and Multimedia Act, Securi­ty Offences (Special Measures) Act, Peaceful Assembly Act, and Preven­tion of Terrorism Act.

“It’s time these laws were repealed, and it is within their capability to make it effective,” said Leong. Keep the promise: Leong says Pakatan must take tangible steps to reinforce independence.

He said it will not take long for the Pakatan government to get the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to draft the necessary amendment Bills to be passed in Parliament to repeal or amend existing laws.

“The amendment Bill will be no longer than three pages, and it can be drawn up within a day or two. It can be done quickly,” said Leong.

For example, Leong said Pakatan’s promise to increase the minimum wage will only require an amendment to the current legislation.

“Pakatan has a comfortable cushion to form a government. So they will have no problem in passing Bills in Parliament.

“You just need a simple majority to pass Bills,” he noted.

Leong also said the office of the Attorney-General and public prosecutor must be decoupled, each independent of the other.

“The A-G is the legal adviser to the government and the public prosecutor is the custodian of the public trusts on prosecutions,” he said.

In line with Pakatan and Dr Mahathir’s promise to strengthen institutions and reduce the power of the prime minister to make appointments, Leong said the new government must also amend the

Judicial Appointments Commission Act to remove the role of the prime minister in effectively having a determinative say in the appointment and promotion of judges.

“Pakatan must take tangible steps to reinforce independence and the strength of the institution,” he added.

Other than amending and repealing laws, Leong said the new go­vernment should look into people who can act upon the laws they introduce.

“You can pass laws and laws can be good in writing. But it requires people to act upon those laws,” he said.

“So it’s important to start looking at appointing people with integrity and who have an unshakeable sense of duty.”

Lawyer Datuk Roger Tan said Pakatan’s 100-day promises are an achievable goal.

“Those promises that require administrative or ministerial actions, there is no problem as they can be done within 100 days.

“Only those that require the passing of legislation will take some time.

“In any event, if it is their 100-day promise then they have to get it done,” he said. If needed, Tan said the government can get the AGC to get an urgent draft Bill ready quickly for the Cabinet’s approval.

“Repealing any legislation re­­quires only a simple Bill to be tabled before Parliament,” he said. 

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