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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Debate on Witness Protection Bill provokes thought

[William Leong Jee Keen is Member of Parliament for Selayang. A prominent lawyer, he has extensive and long years of experience in the legal arena. The above was his speech to Parliament on Mar 23, 2009]

I am grateful to be given the opportunity to participate in the debate on Witness Protection Bill 2008.

In many cases, like America, the witness who is given the protection was a member of the criminal syndicate itself and had participated in the crime. If under this Act, the witness will not only be given a pardon from his crimes but also have his liabilities repaid and his future salaries ensured without having to work, it means under this Act, crime pays.

It will be very lucrative to live a life of crime and then come to Court to finger someone and this may lead to abuse because of the benefits that the witness will obtain.

The Crime

12. Besides organized crime, drug trafficking and corruption, there are also other offences which should provide protection to witnesses. These include money laundering, obstruction of justice, trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants. Malaysia has been named as one of the countries in which offences relating to trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants have become serious proportions.

Relocating Criminals

13. One of the problems that have arisen in the Witness Protection programme in the government giving the witness a new identity in a new relocation is that the witness himself is a criminal. Many of them have after being given the new identity in the new location has returned to a life of crime often causing harm and losses to the persons in the new location.

How does the government propose to resolve this issue and will the government take responsibility for knowingly putting a serial offender into an innocent neighbourhood.[more]

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