Limit video conferencing to civil suits, say opposition MPs

Video conference may not allow a fair trial, says RSN Rayer.

KUALA LUMPUR: Two opposition MPs today voiced concern over allowing the courts to carry out trials through video conferencing under the Courts of Judicature (Amendment) Bill 2020.

RSN Rayer (PH-Jelutong) gave two examples which could cause problems. One, he said, was look-alikes could be used to cheat the court.

He used Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, as a second example. He said Low might appear through video conferencing for former prime minister Najib Razak’s 1MDB trial, and “accuse the Pekan MP of being guilty”.

“This may not allow a fair trial as it is being conducted via video conferencing. ”

So, he said, only certain cases, such as civil cases, should be heard through video conferencing, or to know the progress of the case or to mention a new date for the case. But it should not be allowed for a full trial, Rayer said.

Sivarasa Rasiah (PH-Sungai Buloh) said criminal cases should not be allowed to be heard online.

“All parties should be present in court,” he said.

Earlier, de facto law minister Takiyuddin Hassan tabled the bill for second reading, allowing MPs to debate on it.

Takiyuddin said it was an option and not mandatory for courts to carry out live streaming of a case.

He said that due to the Covid-19 crisis, almost all sectors had been impacted and even though the courts were not under the essential list, steps needed to be taken to ensure there was access to justice.

Takiyuddin said the UK, Singapore. Australia and New Zealand had made changes to their laws to allow live streaming of court cases, with proper safety measures put in place.

He said if a case was in Kuala Lumpur and the accuser in Baling, police would be instructed by the Attorney-General’s Chambers to ensure genuine witnesses or accusers appear during the live streaming.

The same would apply for cases involving those overseas as Malaysian authorities would work with Interpol and others on the case.