Tuesday, March 19, 2013

RCI will decide SLA request next month

Posted by Smookiekins On 3/19/2013 11:02:00 AM

March, 19 2013

KOTA KINABALU: The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on Illegal Immigrants in Sabah will decide in its next proceeding next month the request from Sabah Law Association (SLA) to be given full access to all its witness statements.

RCI chairman Tan Sri Tan Sri Amar Steve Shim Lip Kiong said the commission would take its time in deliberating on the application from SLA to look, among others, at any constitutional issues that may be involved. 

Earlier the commission listened to arguments from SLA and the appointed Conducting Officers (CO), represented by Manoj Kurup, who objected against the request. 

Manoj argued that the law clearly stipulated that all investigations for the purposes of the RCI proceeding and the access to any information gathered from that investigation is a privilege of the appointed Investigation Officers alone. 

He said the commission acknowledged the intention of SLA as the party of interest to assist in the proceeding but access to the statements must not be given to any parties outside the commission in accordance with the existing laws as well as previous decisions for similar requests in other public inquiries. 

SLA submitted an application in chambers last month requesting the commission panels to order its Conducting Officers to share all the over 100 witness statements in their possession. 

Its representative, Alex Decena, tried to establish that the commission has the supervision and control, including over the investigation aspects of the inquiry, and has the power and discretion to direct the recorded statements to be shared with SLA. 

“The whole reason we apply (for access to the statements) is solely to help the commission establish the facts. The CO has done a good job but we are here to make it better. 

“We have the same role (as the CO), therefore the evidence should be made equally available to us. If we are disadvantaged by looking at just the transcript of notes of proceedings, we may come up with misleading conclusions and recommendations (for the Commission),” he said. 

The association also submitted an application to forward their own witnesses to testify before the commission, which the commission chairman said would be allowed but their statement must first be recorded by the investigation officers, to ensure relevance to the terms of reference of the inquiry. 

Decena submitted that SLA would offer four witnesses, including two from Kuala Lumpur, to testify on matters related to electoral rolls, among others. 

The commission, which has been given an extension of another six months to complete its probe into the illegal immigrants issues in Sabah, is expected to hold its next proceeding from April 15 to 20.

Source : Borneo Post  
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