Malaysiakini Letter

Investigations and the rule of law

G Selva
Published:

LETTER | We must remember and empathise that MACC chief Latheefa Koya is now part of our most dependable enforcement agency in the country. She, coming from a thoroughbred legal background is learning the ropes of the necessity of rules of engagement that all investigators face in gathering evidence at the pre admissible stage.

Experienced investigators normally develop deep moral conscience but have to conform to the other arms in our criminal justice system including the executive. The executive has always been powerfully potent over our enforcement agencies in this country.

Political suspects in criminal investigations have always had ways and means to access enforcement agencies during investigations. This normally creates massive pressure on the investigator.

Conscientious investigators have to tread cautiously to ensure that their efforts do not hit a stone wall especially when suspects are in positions of great influence and power. Investigators have been removed in the past when they are seen to be not part of the intended outcome that favour the unscrupulous and the powerful.

Cases can be shelved silently or treated half baked by design, to ensure either it does not reach the courts or admissible evidence is manipulated to be weak. The rule of law also suffers when there is such manipulation. This, I believe, was in the back of Latheefa's mind.

It has also become a norm for our lead enforcement agencies to give press conferences on raids and seizures that depict great success without waiting for the commencement of trial. Exhibits are displayed without worry that it might become an issue during trial later.

Statements are made during press conferences as to how and when it was seized. Some even reveal identities of those arrested and normally the public shower accolades of praise. It boosts morale, confidence, trust and provides an immediate adrenaline of inspiration for the agency concerned. It is seen as a win-win situation.

Although it is clearly unethical and improper to discuss any case before it is legally disposed of by the criminal justice system, it has become an accepted fad.

Latheefa now is an investigator and has decided to reveal the audio recordings in full. She now sees a different world as to how admissible evidence can possibly be tweaked, covered up, prevented, diminished, etc by the human factor.

Every turn of the corner in the system has someone with vested interests. The only remedy to counter these negatives is transparency and exposure at an early stage. It was a risk she knowingly took in her assessment of the magnitude of the revelations.

Her strategy in the rules of engagement chosen, as an investigator, must be given full support as this is no ordinary case. The magnitude of the betrayal to the nation is unprecedented.

Our criminal justice system has failed to deliver the goods in many high profile cases involving politicians in the past. The suspects in the audio recording case still wield a great amount of influence in the contemporary political landscape.

They will obviously test the rule of law in the ethics, admissibility and procedures involved of which they have every right to do so.

The rule of law applied fairly and firmly without fear or favour, will gradually and surely, provide the legal remedies for all concerned on all sides of the legal spectrum in the criminal justice system.

However the guilty and the unscrupulous will try to tie the system in knots so as to blur the evidence made available.

Latheefa is but only a cog in the wheel of justice and is simply the messenger. It is the message that has to be given full focus and priority, so as to ensure that justice is uncompromisingly done.


The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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