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Amendments to laws have to be made piecemeal

KUALA LUMPUR, 24 March 2009: Amendments to any law have to be made piecemeal and not in a comprehensive manner because the law has to change according to the needs of a particular time, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said today.

He told the Dewan Rakyat that if a law was not amended for a long time, it would become static.

“Laws are something living. Needs arise as time passes. I regard any amendment not from a negative angle. I believe that if there are amendments, then we are sensitive to what’s happening around us.

“It is not a problem to make amendments in a comprehensive manner, but for certain clauses the amendment has to be made in stages according to the needs which require it to be expedited,” he said when winding up debate on the Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Bill 2008.

Mohamed Nazri said frequent amendments indicate that members of parliament, including from among the opposition parties, were playing an active role by giving ideas to ensure that laws were kept up-to-date.

Referring to the absence of the text of the bill in Bahasa Malaysia, Mohamed Nazri explained that the true text of the bill was in English and the amendment was also done in the same language.

“The Criminal Procedure Code was formulated in 1935. Clause 3 (3) Article 152 of the Federal Constitution states that the true text for laws to be tabled or amended in any session of parliament has to be in English for a period of 10 years after independence.

“Even 10 years after independence, the true text remains the true text, as determined in our constitution. As such, even after 10 years, the true text in all our business is English. That cannot be changed.

“I can ask the Attorney-General’s Chambers to make available a translation in Bahasa Malaysia but the true text which I use will be in English and not Bahasa Malaysia,” he said.

On the issue of new and inexperienced people having been appointed magistrates, Mohamed Nazri said the appointment of judicial officers under the jurisdiction of the Judicial Appointments Commission and the filling of the posts of magistrate for new officers were not automatic but it came about with the need to fill immediate vacancies.

“Priority in the filling of vacancies is given to more experienced officers. Only when there are an insufficient number of experienced officers, new officers are emplaced. However, every new officer appointed is always given the relevant guidance and training,” he said.

Mohamed Nazri said that in future, posts of magistrate would be filled by officers who had served for three years in the legal service whether as an administrator or deputy public prosecutor.

On the matter of shortage of court interpreters, he said there was a shortage of Chinese interpreters and that there had been poor response to the advertisements for the vacancies placed by the Public Service Department.

He also said that efforts were being made to review the salaries and allowances of judges under the Judges Remuneration Act.

On the efforts to overcome the backlog of cases in the magistrates’ courts, Mohamed Nazri said these included increasing the number of judicial officers, implementing the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) for road accident cases in the subordinate courts, and reorganising files in the file rooms. — Bernama


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