Monday, 30 September 2013
PCA, seeking justice through injustice?
The raging debate in the Malaysian Parliament currently is on the amendments to the “Prevention of Crime Act (PCA)”. If approved, it allows for detention without trial for 2 years and could be extended for a further 2 years. Rather draconian. Although there are assurances that it will be carefully enforced and only on “known criminals”, power once given cannot be easily reined in.
Of course there is also the question that if their “crimes are really known”, then such an Act is not necessary as they can be prosecuted under existing laws. By logical extension then, people who will be jailed under this Act are those whose crimes cannot be proven in Courts.
I understand this Act is tempting in the face of rising crimes in the country. But, do we really want to make this sacrifice of freedom, values and beliefs? What defines fairness, right over wrong, the protection of minority views, and the right to be different, if we do not uphold the universal values of “innocence until proven guilty”? Guilt by accusation reminds us of the dark ages, where women were burnt on accusations of witchcrafts.
One of the justifications of this Act is that the police force finds their work difficult, to put accused criminals away, after the abolishment of the Emergency Ordinance and the Internal Security Act. While I sympathized, surely the solution lies in “better policing”. In training, in personnel, in intelligence services, in technology application and so forth. One would assume policing all over the world faces the same challenges. To quote a movie, Touch of Evil (1958), “A policeman’s job is only easy in a police state”.
Let us not make the same mistake as in our education policy. Faced with falling quality of our education due to insufficient good teachers, we lowered the passing grades. It is politically expedient. But what are the consequences?
We need to address the root causes of crime. Why and by whom? We need long-term solutions of upgrading the police force. The answer does not lie in lowering the barrier … whether it is passing grades of students or putting accused criminals in jail!
“There is one, and only one, thing in modern society more hideous than crime namely, repressive justice”. Simone Weil