Uproar over tabling of DNA Bill

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 27 Aug 2008

THE DNA Identification Bill was tabled for second reading, causing an uproar among Opposition MPs and even the Bar Council stepped in, asking for it to be deferred.

Fong Po Kuan (DAP – Batu Gajah) stood up on a point of order even before Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar could present the Bill.

She accused the Government of being “hasty” in pushing the second reading forward.

Questioning why the Bill was pushed forward when the Universities and University Colleges (Amendment) Bill had been tabled for first reading earlier, she asked: “Is there any malicious intention?”

The Universities and University Colleges (Amendment) Bill was tabled for first reading at the previous meeting while the DNA Identification Bill was only presented to Parliament on Aug 18.

Deputy Speaker Datuk Ronald Kiandee told her that under the Standing Orders, the Government had the right to prioritise any Bill above others, prompting Fong to retort that the House should at least be told of such a move.

The Deputy Speaker then attempted to get on with the proceedings, amidst protests from Fong – who alleged that there was udang di sebalik batu (ulterior motives) – and from Lim Lip Eng (DAP – Segambut).

Citing a point of order, Salahuddin Ayob (PAS – Kubang Kerian) claimed that MPs had not been given time to prepare for debate on the Bill as they had previously thought to focus their “homework” on the AUKU Bill.

However, Kiandee was firm in allowing proceedings to go on, adding that the Speaker had acceded to the government’s request to push forward the Bill.

Syed Hamid later said that the Bill was not intended for a particular person and that there was no sinister motive in tabling it.

At the Parliament lobby, lawyers from the Human Rights Committee of the Bar Council called for the Bill to be withdrawn from debate and to have a proper public consultation with experts such as chemists, criminologists, lawyers and others.

Edmund Bon, representing the committee, called for the setting up of a Parliamentary Select Committee to research and make further amendments to the Bill, add privacy rights, adopt a data protection regime and ratify the international covenant of civil and political rights.

“We are not against the setting up of a DNA databank but it must be set up with adequate safeguards,” said Bon.

When met at the lobby, Syed Hamid said he would not withdraw the Bill despite calls to do so by opposition MPs.

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