DNA Identification Bill passed

(The Star) – The controversial DNA Identification Bill 2008 was passed with amendments Tuesday.

Marked by a ferocious debate at the policy stage last year, the bill was passed with nine amendments after a two-day debate at the committee stage.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wira Abu Seman Yusop said the amendments, among others, included Clause 7 on a provision to replace police officers as Forensic DNA chief, deputy chief and officers.

The bill stipulates that the posts of Forensic DNA chief, deputy chief and officers tasked with administering and managing the DNA Data Bank would be filled by members of the public, who are qualified and experienced in DNA science.

"This is aimed at casting our net further to entice qualified people to manage the DNA Data Bank," he said when tabling and winding-up debate on the amendments at the Dewan Rakyat Tuesday.

The Dewan Rakyat also passed an amendment to Clause 13(7) that enables a person, who refuses to allow a non-intimate sample from being taken, to be charged.

Previously, a subclause stated that a police officer may use all means necessary for the purpose of taking or assisting the taking of a non-intimate sample from a person.

Two other clauses were deleted.

They were Clause 14 on fines and jail term on a person refusing to give a non-intimate sample and Clause 24 that stated the DNA Data Bank information must be accepted as conclusive proof on DNA identification in court proceedings.

Abu Seman said the amendments were in line with proposals submitted by non-government organisations and members of the House during a debate at the policy stage.

However, changes suggested by several members of the Houses including from Teo Nie Ching (DAP-Serdang), Dr Mohd Hatta Md Ramli (PAS-Kuala Krai), Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj (PSM-Sungai Siput) and Lim Lip Eng (DAP-Segambut) were dismissed.

The bill, which was tabled for the second reading in August last year, will pave the way for the formation of the DNA Data Bank, taking and safekeeping of DNA samples, analysis of DNA samples and the use of DNA samples for humanitarian purposes.

It will empower the police to take DNA samples from any crime suspect and to make the sample as a source of reference to solve future cases.

The sitting resumes Wednesday.