Over the past many years, many enforcement agencies investigating and enforcement agencies have come under legal and public scrutiny. On top of the the list is the Police Force and I admit they have come under more than their share of the scrutiny.
As a lawyer, I have found the police generally accessible during their investigating periods. You can actually get to meet and talk to the investigating officers, even their superior bosses if you are unhappy with the speed or lack thereof of their investigations. In spite of the rare cases, especially high profile ones, I have always found the police generally cooperative.
The Police seem to understand that lawyers too form part of the justice system and that it starts from the point of arrest, seizure of goods and investigations. Even the Customs Department or the MACC understands this. But does Bank Negara?
There is a general feeling among the public that Bank Negara Officials in the enforcement and investigating units hold themselves out as exclusive. I have yet to ascertain this factually though I am keen to explore this. It will be interesting and shocking fact to discover if indeed they behave exclusively! What would civil servants in enforcement want to have a veneer of exclusivity. I will get exasperated if relevant Bank Negara investigating officers or their bosses refuse to see me on a matter that concerns my client's just interests.
My exasperation is simple: if a lawyer is unable to ensure that justice is done to his client, then what can the lay client do? It can be as simple as wanting to meet the investigating officer or if he is unable to respond coherently, than to meet his bosses to find out why investigations are taking a long time and to offer assistance to speed it up. Isn't the point of investigations to enforce the law justly and in accordance WITH the law?
Last week, I had chats with a few MPs and 2 Ministers on this possibility because I am beginning to develop the feeling that maybe some parts of Bank Negara have evolved into exclusivity. While I may be a lawyer acting for my client, I cannot divorce myself from the fact that I am also a very concerned citizen who does his two cents worth for justice, human rights and to protect the credibility of OUR institutions - that includes Bank Negara. I want to be able to ascertain certain attitudes, facts, and views before I blog further about the enforcing and investigating unit of Bank Negara.
Enforcement agencies generally should know the difference between ENFORCING and OPPRESSING. The Police Force generally understand this. When you conduct your investigations expeditiously, then you are playing fair. On the other hand, if you pussy-foot or incompetently investigate, you are being oppressive. The innocent party suffers as a result of your incompetence or delay. If this was the case, then the suffering party should be remedied and if I have my way, I want the officer who so nonchalantly visits injustice on others to be punished too.
I am having another meeting soon with some of the MPs and Minister on this issue of enforcement and investigating capabilities in Bank Negara and the reluctance or willingness of their officers to meet lawyers. Once I get a clearer picture, it is time for us to educate the public.