Hearsay evidence permissible in Suhakam inquiry, says commissioner

Suhakam commissioner Datuk Mah Weng Kwai speaks during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur April 4, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Suhakam commissioner Datuk Mah Weng Kwai speaks during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur April 4, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 4 — The Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Sukaham) is permitted to accept hearsay evidence in a public inquiry, a Suhakam commissioner Datuk Mah Weng Kwai said.

He said Suhakam inquiries are not bound by the Evidence Act 1950, such as in criminal and civil cases.

“It is important to understand and appreciate the nature of the proceedings. This is an inquiry, it was not a criminal trial, definitely not a civil trial.

“No one was in the dock and no one has been charged. We are hearing it as an inquiry under the powers of the Suhakam Act.

“In an inquest, the proper standard of proof is on balanced probabilities. In an inquiry such as ours, we adopt that standard on balanced probabilities,” he told a press conference, in response to comments on Suhakam’s conclusion that the abductions of pastor Raymond Koh and activist Amri Che Mat were enforced disappearances involving state agents, namely the Bukit Aman Special Branch division.

Mah said under the Suhakam Act Section 14 (a) and (d), the inquiry panel adopts a flexible approach to the evidence submitted, as it is also in line with the international standards on human rights inquiries.

Section 14 (a) and (d) of the Act states that the commission has the power to procure and receive all evidence and examine all witnesses, notwithstanding any provision of the Evidence Act.

Mah said anyone who has an interest in the case should go through the two reports thoroughly before drawing their own conclusions.

“As far as the evidence is concerned, I don’t know if the PM has read our two reports when he made the statement please anyone who is going to have views on this, kindly read it and analyse it,” said Mah, in response to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s statement yesterday, that the alleged involvement of state agents in the two men’s disappearances is merely hearsay and that Suhakam must produce evidence to support the claim.

“Everything has been stated based on the evidence we received, that was brought to us days before the inquiry.

“There should be an emphasis on this and that we have done sufficient fact finding for the special task force to now reinvestigate [the cases],” he said.

Mah said copies of the reports will be officially handed over to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and other relevant agencies for further action.

“Obviously, the reports are no use to us just sitting on our tables They have to reach the authorities.

“Definitely copies will be given to the PMO officially, they have to go to the Attorney General’s Chambers, Home Affairs [Ministry], most certainly have to go to the police themselves and any other related agencies,” he said.

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