FORMER Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim lauded Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat’s decision to tighten proceedings during a remand hearing from being abused by the authorities.
“This new Practice Direction is timely and well-received by the public. Some magistrates tend to be more ‘relaxed’ when dealing with the police’s applications for remand order.
“The police usually get the remand order requested without much difficulty. To be remanded is a serious action, for it entails deprivation of liberty. The legal system must ensure that this deprivation and denial can only be made for good reasons,” he said, in a Facebook post.
Yesterday, Tengku Maimun updated the Practice Direction and instructed magistrates to place tighter scrutiny for remand proceedings to ensure suspects under investigation are given proper representation.
She also directed magistrates to ensure suspects are in good health when they are brought before the court.
The new Practice Direction will take effect tomorrow, and the two previous orders issued in 2003 and 2011 are revoked immediately.
Among the new rules enacted by the Chief Justice include that a lawyer must show proof that the suspect had appointed the person and magistrates must ensure the suspect is present during remand application, with the police producing investigation diary and other documents before beginning the hearing.
The suspect must also confirm with the magistrate that he (or she) has been given the opportunity to get a lawyer of their choice.
“If the suspect has not appointed a lawyer, it must be determined that he plans to get the services of one,” the directive stated.
Remand order abused?
On that note, Zaid said that the police now would be compelled to ensure all their investigation papers are in order before applying for remand.
He added that in countries such as the UK and New Zealand, the police are not allowed to keep suspects on remand, except in serious cases where the investigation may be hampered if the suspect is not placed under police custody.
“But in Malaysia, it’s the opposite. Police can get remand orders quite easily, even if the investigation has not started.
“It looks like a remand order is being used to expedite and complete investigations quickly. That’s not what remand is all about.
“In our country, in a simple case of ‘insulting a Kedah politician’, the police were able to get a remand order for three days. This looks like harassment, not to facilitate proper police investigation,” Zaid noted.
The former Umno MP added: “I hope other judges will emulate the good habit and attitudes of our Chief justice. The judiciary is our last bastion for justice, fairness and all the safeguards we need to live in a decent society.
“It is the last place politicians can enter and wreak havoc. Take good care of our Palace of Justice.” – Sept 14, 2021.