When I was a houseman in Penang hospital, eon years ago, there was an episode which I can still recall which involved the doctors and a state DPP.
As a houseman, I was required to help run the A & E Unit (Accidnet and Emergency Unit, unofficially called the Casualty department) once in a while, according to our rosters.
I still remember at that time, in that emergency department’s consultation room, there were 2 tables, one in the centre which was occupied by the medical officer on duty, the other table was at the side and would be occupied by the houseman on duty. There were examination couch which were divided by curtains to ensure some form of privacy for examining patients.
Government emergency unit was always packed, in those days as in now.
In those days, after 4.15pm, the outpatient clinics of the hospital would be closed, and all patients, whether emergency or not, all came to the A&E units. We of course would see the emergency cases first– those involved in accidents , bleeding cases, and cardiac arrest cases , asthmatic cases and so on–and the not so serious one would have to wait for these emergency cases to be managed first before we could attend to them.
One night, when I was on duty, the medical officer was a CHinese lady doctor, known for her compassion and efficiency. She would not entertain whether a big shot’s child was having fever and waiting outside,; she would see the emergency cases first, as should be the case.
Suddenly, there was a commotion outside the consultation room, and not long after, a man barged in angrily and confronted the Medical Officer (MO). He asked whether the MO knew who he was. Of course the doctor answered in the negative. He then loudly claimed that he was so and so, a State DPP, and he wanted his kid who was having a very minor ailment to be seen first.
The MO refused saying that she would see emergency cases first, and other non emergency cases on a first come first serve basis, no matter who the patient was..A stand which I agreed totally, and I chipped in to say so.
The man then became very angry, used abusive words, and then foul languages, and before he left, and made some threats as to ” make sure we tremble in our pants and that we would have our pants down and so on”…
The MO filed a complaint to the hospital director the next day, and i wrote a witness account too. To make sure that action would be taken against this DPP, all the MOs and Housemen signed a joint memorandum and submitted to the then DG through the hospital director. In fact, the DG came and visited and spoke to both the MO and myself as well as the staff on duty that night.
A formal complaint was lodged and the DPP was transferred.(whether there was any demotion or promotion, we were not told).
Even in those days, people tended to throw their weight around. This might be human nature, especially those in the legal profession where they controlled the fate of whether to put people on trial or not.
In a way, those DPPs are like judges, since they have the power to decide on whether a case has sufficient merits to be tried and whether such a case should be dropped.
That being the case, would it not happen that some of them might hesitate to put top civil servants or top private lawyers on trial? Especially those whom they have come to know well as Golfing partners or fellow club members?
That brings us back to the issue of prosecution. The Teoh Beng Hock’s case was prosecuted by a private sector lawyer , a former DPP. This actually started a good precedent.
Looking at the whole civil services, we have a perception that the standard of everything is not as good as before. In other words, there is a loss of excellence in all fields. In the Judiciary, many cases which were prosecuted were unsuccessful because of not ‘sufficient’ groundwork done, meaning that the case was not well investigated and prepared. So in many cases , justice is not done because of technicalities.
But there are a lot of expertise outside which can be tapped..
Malaysia still has plenty of good lawyers in private practices, some with 30 to 40 years of experiences, and many of them have gone through the golden age of our legal system in the 60s and 70s, when Malaysia’s judiciary was among the best and most independent in the Commonwealth.
So why not let some of these senior lawyers prosecute cases especially those involving civil servants and government GLCs and public funds?
Why not let these lawyers head investigative task force to investigate big scandals like PKFZ and the missing jets?
WHy not let Karpal Singh prosecute Lingam when he openly declared that he is willing to do so? Karpal is very experienced and allegedly one of the best lawyers in the country, there is no doubt about it. Why not let him prosecute the case in his capacity of a competent senior lawyer?
I think Malaysia’s legal system needs to adopt new thinkings and new mindsets in order to nail down those culprits and perpetrators who are enjoying themselves because we did not use the best brains to tackle them.
As long as Justice is done and seen to be done, whether the rats were caught by the white mouse or the black mouse or the brown mouse is really immaterial…