Ahad, 29 September 2013

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The Star Online: Nation

Special forces veterans will always hate communist rebels


MERSING: The special forces who fought against the communist guerillas led by Chin Peng will never forgive or forget the atrocities against them by the rebels.

Malaysian commando veterans club president Kpt (R) Datuk Mohd Ali Shamsudin said many special forces men, being the frontliners during military operations against the terrorists, sacrificed their lives defending the country.

"I lost at least five good friends in ambushes and booby traps set by the insurgents.

"I hope the Government honours those who were killed or maimed at the hands of the terrorists and never allow Chin Peng's ashes to be brought into the country," he said at the Special Forces Day celebrations at Kem Iskandar here yesterday.

Some 250 veterans from around the country took part in the event, which was launched by the Johor Ruler, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar.

Chin Peng died at the age of 88 in Bangkok on Sept 16 and was cremated at a temple in the Thai capital after a four-day wake. The Malaysian Government has disallowed his ashes to be brought back to the country.

Mohd Ali hoped the Government would look into the welfare of more than 4,000 special forces veterans who had left the service.

"Many of them are now security guards, taxi drivers, odd-job workers and labourers. This is sad as many are highly skilled and suitable as bodyguards and divers for the oil and gas sector," he said, adding that they were also expert parachutists.

He said most special forces men retired at 40 after 21 years in the service, adding that they were fit for work in the private sector.

Meanwhile, the Sultan of Johor, in his royal address at the event, reminded the special forces to be always prepared for challenges, such as the unexpected intrusion of militants in Lahad Datu, Sabah, earlier this year.

The Ruler hoped to see the Defence Ministry and the country's leadership equipping the special forces with advanced weaponry besides looking at the human capital and organisational requirements.

"Every life of a member of the special forces is valuable and it is pointless to get killed due to defective weaponry or other weaknesses," said Sultan Ibrahim.

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Remembering heroes and villains

Lawyer: Irresponsible people may come forward as false witnesses


KUALA LUMPUR: A lawyer has warned of a risk of false witnesses taking advantage of the witness identity protection under the proposed Section 265A of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).

Datuk N. Sivananthan, 47, said although the basis of the proposed amendment was to encourage witnesses to come forward to give evidence, their anonymity must be used in the rarest of situation.

"It must not be used all the time. The danger is when irresponsible people take advantage of the situation and come forward as false witnesses because their names and faces are protected," he said.

On Wednesday, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of law Datuk Nancy Shukri tabled the proposed amendments to the CPC in Parliament.

Among the proposed amendments was for the protection of witness identity under the new Section 265A where the public prosecutor may issue an identity protection certificate for a witness to give evidence in camera.

It was also proposed under Section 265A(5) that if a witness fears his voice may be recognised, the court may allow his voice to be distorted when giving evidence.

Meanwhile, under Section 265B, it was proposed for a protected witness to give evidence in camera to carry out identification of an accused or any other person via an interpreter or a court officer.

Those who compromise the protected identity of a witness may be punished with a RM10,000 fine and jail term not exceeding five years.

Sivananthan said some provision must be provided for a judge to see the protected witness despite the amendment pushing for the witness to be concealed from the public eye.

"The judge must be able to see the witness to observe his or her demeanour. This is one of the factors for the judge to decide whether the witness is believable or otherwise," he said.

Sivananthan also welcomed the proposed amendment under the new Section 7A of the Prevention of Crime Act where the public prosecutor may apply to the courts for an electronic monitoring device to be attached to an accused to be released on bail.

"However my concern is that such technology needs professional supervision by competent personnel.

"This is a good thing as the current system puts a lot of people under remand. Some of them spend a long time in remand and end up being acquitted of the crime, and all that time in remand was because they could not afford bail," he said, adding that such a device was common in the United States.

Frenzied debate over slew of Bills


MOST of the Yang Berhormat (YBs) buried themselves deep in work last week, poring over the slew of proposed amendments to laws meant to address issues related to security and crime prevention.

Eleven Bills were tabled for the first reading but one which came under greater scrutiny was the Prevention of Crime (Amendment and Extension) Bill.

Initially, Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar complained that the legislators were caught off guard over the Bills, claiming that they knew about these only at the eleventh hour.

But MPs, being the politicians they are, lost no time in giving their views about the proposed changes to the laws.

One matter that was highlighted was a provision that allowed for a two-year detention of suspected gang members without trial or judicial review.

Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong (BN-Ayer Hitam) voiced his concerns over the move, saying it would allow for prolonged detention of an accused without trial.

Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers, notably Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelu­gor), hit out at the amendment.

They felt that it was a regressive move that echoed the days of the Internal Security Act (ISA).

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, during a press conference at Parliament lobby, said he would provide a detailed explanation on the reasons for the amendments in coming debates.

He denied that the new laws were a signal that Acts similar to those such as the ISA were making a "comeback".

Besides tackling organised crime, the proposed new laws were also targeted at crimes such as gang rape and criminal force against a spouse.

There are also plans to increase jail time for sexual offenders and repeat offenders.

For those who show disrespect to the Jalur Gemilang, there is a possibility of a jail sentence of between five and 15 years.

And there will be no "honour" in accepting titles from self-proclaimed heads of state not recognised by Malaysia. Those who do so could find themselves behind bars for at least five years.

Earlier in the week, the Dewan passed amendments to the Legal Profession Act to liberalise the legal profession while curbing "fly in, fly out" foreign lawyers.

The move will allow foreign lawyers to participate in arbitration matters while restricting them to a limited role in local legal matters and proceedings.

Also drawing attention was the tabling of the Supplementary Supply Bill for RM14bil in additional expenditure for 10 ministries and six other government institutions.

On another matter, N. Surendran (PKR-Padang Serai) was sent out of the House by Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia when he was adamant in raising a petition about a custodial death despite Pandikar's explanation that the move was against the order of proceedings.

There was also another heated moment when Deputy Science, Technology and Innovations Minister Datuk Abu Bakar Mohamad Diah defended the Lynas rare earth plant, saying that it was as safe as a kicap (soya sauce) factory.

His remark angered a group of anti-Lynas campaigners who had earlier handed him a memorandum.

There was a brief shoving and pushing between him and some group members.

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