MACC: No constitutional right to lawyer presence during questioning

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has stated that lawyers do not possess a constitutional right to be present during the questioning of their clients. This statement comes in response to accusations by rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), which claimed that the MACC was restricting access to a client. MACC deputy director Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin cited legal precedents supporting the suspension of the constitutional right for arrested individuals to consult their lawyer.

Wan Shaharuddin referred to the case of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission & Ors v Latheefa Beebi Koya & Anor (2017) 5 MLJ 349, stating that not everyone called in for an MACC investigation is under arrest. He clarified that the court’s judgement in this case confirmed that witnesses having their statements recorded are not entitled to legal representation, as they are not suspects, arrested persons, or unlawfully detained individuals.

“Under the MACC Act 2009, there is no specific provision that grants the right to have a lawyer present during the recording of a statement in the course of an investigation. While it allows the accused person to have a legal practitioner present during an examination under oath, it does not explicitly grant the right to legal representation during other forms of interrogation or questioning,” he said.

Wan Shaharuddin also cited the case of Datuk Hasanah Ab Hamid v MACC and the Government of Malaysia, noting that the Court of Appeal found the right to legal representation during an investigation may be suspended in accordance with the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code, such as when it obstructs the progress of an ongoing investigation.

“It is important to note that the absence of a specific provision allowing lawyers to be present during the recording of statements does not mean that legal representation is entirely prohibited during the investigation process. In conclusion, the statement by the LFL does not reflect the actual actions taken by the MACC in ensuring the protection of the rights of individuals who are arrested in accordance with the provisions of the law,” he added.

Last week, LFL director Zaid Malek claimed that the MACC was not allowing lawyers to be present when their clients’ statements were being recorded. He accused the MACC of employing tactics to hinder lawyers from fulfilling their duties, adding that other enforcement authorities in Malaysia do not restrict legal representation during questioning.

World News

Lee Shuyi

Lee is an expat writer living in Thailand. She specialises in Southeast Asian news for the Thaiger. When she's not writing, Lee enjoys immersing herself in Thai culture and learning Thai.

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