KUALA LUMPUR, 26 Aug 2008: A lawmaker today questioned the power given to the police to obtain deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) samples and the government’s assurance that the samples would not be manipulated.
Gobind Singh Deo (DAP-Puchong) suggested that an independent body be tasked with taking DNA samples.
“It must also be ensured that the samples kept in the DNA Data Bank are totally protected to prevent them from being used for other purposes,” he said when debating the DNA Identification Bill 2008 in the Dewan Rakyat.
Section 13 of the Bill states that non-intimate samples should only be taken by a government medical officer or a police officer or chemist.
A police officer can also use whatever means necessary to obtain or assist in obtaining non-intimate samples from an individual.
Gobind also questioned why obtaining DNA samples could not be done by a judge or magistrate.
“Why should the power not be given to the magistrate to determine whether the sample is allowed to be obtained or not? Why should that power be given to the police?”
Gobind also brought in the alleged sodomy case involving Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in 1992, and questioned why the mattress (a court exhibit) with blood stains was only brought to court as proof six years after the incident.
At this juncture, Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar stood up and chided Gobind for trying to turn Parliament into a courtroom.
This caused Gobind to challenge the minister to a public debate outside Parliament on Anwar’s case but it was rejected by Syed Hamid, saying it would be a waste of time.
Datuk Ibrahim Ali (Independent-Pasir Mas) then proposed that the government set up a special department or unit, the credibility of which would not be questioned, to manage DNA samples.
“We don’t want to hear anymore about conspiracies or manipulation (of samples), so we must think of the best mechanism. This is to avoid lingering doubts so that the validity of DNA samples brought to court would not be disputed.”
Ibrahim also suggested that obtaining DNA samples from criminals be made mandatory as the penalty for refusal to provide a sample was not heavy
enough, that is, a fine of not more than RM10,000 or jail term of not more than one year, or both.
“The accused may be in a position to pay the penalty. So, there appears to be a loophole in this Bill which could create problems when a DNA sample cannot be obtained but is necessary in solving a case,” he said. – Bernama