Wednesday 14 November 2012

Law is not profit-making enterprise – Mohamed Hanipa Maidin

NOV 13 – Many things have been said on Automated Enforcement System ( AES ). As it stands now, AES apparently produces more queries than answers. It is no wonder that even the Umno Youth have jumped into the bandwagon asking the government to halt the implementation of the system. Despite several responses by the Transport Minister hitherto AES has been riddled with many unanswered questions.

As far as I am concerned AES contravenes the law. It is against the bedrock of criminal law. AES is closely tied with criminal system as it is part and parcel of the enforcement of traffic offences. AES in itself is innocent until off course the private companies are dragged in the enforcement of such a system.

The criminal law system is purely a State’s business. It is not driven by any profit-making considerations. That has been the universal principle of criminal law until the BN government seeks to alter it.

By allowing and endorsing two private companies namely ATES Sdn Bhd dan Beta Tegap Sdn Bhd to participate in the enforcement of traffic law, the Government has in fact introduced a new conflict in criminal law. With the participation of these two private firms, the criminal law is no more functioning as deterring or reforming mechanism. Quite the reverse, it is now entering a new realm or a prohibited zone that is a profit-making enterprise. That surely is the fastest way to destroy the whole fabric of such a law.

In criminal law the State, with all its machinery at its disposal, is entrusted as the sole agent to enforce the law. Thus, if the people pay the traffic summons such money will go directly to the State coffers. Interestingly the people’s money via summons will ultimately return to the people. That is how it works. Money come from people will come back to the people. AES, in its present form, disrupts the flow cycles of people’s money.

In collecting the summons the State is not concerned with profits let alone the distribution of wealth to any shareholders. In fact the people are the shareholders of the State.

When the private companies are roped in in the enforcement of law via AES, the summons (read people’s money) are no longer solely enjoyed by the State. The fruits of the summons are now distributed equally between the two sharing partners.

Such a distribution has major impact to the state coffers as substantial part of the summons also go to such private companies. The fact that the companies, unlike State, are able to fully enjoy such money without any obligation whatsoever to return the usufruct of such money to the people lies the problem of AES.

Being the main players of AES these two firms will definitely involve in any decision-making process with the State in the enforcement of AES. As they are driven primarily by profit-making nothing would surprise us if they would involve in any endeavour to see as many as possible the issuance of summons to the lawbreakers. After all their profits hinge on the issuance of the summons.

Who would be happier than ATES Sdn Bhd dan Beta Tegap Sdn Bhd when the government passed the new amendments to the traffic laws recently. The new law which removes the discretion of the police and the court and in turn imposes the minimum penalties of RM300 for any single summons issued against the law breaker has tremendous impact to the ordinary people on the street.

A mandatory minimum sentence in any traffic offence is always problematic. This is because the reasons for the law breaking vary. The removal of the court’s discretion in imposing sentences is as good as removing the judge’s mercy which is also part and parcel of criminal justice system.

Needless to say the two firms will be reaping a huge profit with such a new law. Be that as it may it is too difficult to resist a conclusion that the two firms might have been involved in the introduction of such a drastic change of such a law. After all who are more interested to have a mandatory fine of RM 300 if not the main players in AES.

The confidence of the people contributes to the success of any law. When the people loses confidence in AES the legitimacy of such a system is highly questionable. To add salt to the injury, the people has also lost confidence in the introducer of AES that is the BN government.

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