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Monthly Archive July 2016

Killing The Robber

It was broad daylight of 1976 in George Town, Penang- Malaysia, when an emergency call was received at central police station Penang reporting a “Robbery” and police patrol called “whisky 18” was dispatched to identified location and a man in green shirt with long sleeves, was accused as robber by the two civilians aiding the “whisky 18”. The police officer instructed the accused “to stop” and “to raise his hands” and the man-in-green “stopped & raised his hands” like an obedient subject or may be the one with no option but to follow the instruction. A police officer approached the accused robber, arrested him and recovered a pistol tucked in his waist and 5 rounds of .38 bullets.

Does it sound like a terrorist arrested? A communist or a jihadi? No gun fired, no shouting or running on the street, no quarrelling. Do u feel any terror or public disorder on that Kampar road of George Town?

All this was happening in a “Security area” as declared so under Internal Security Act (ISA), 1960. IAS was enacted to provide “internal security”, “prevention of subversion”, and to suppress “organised violence” in specified areas called “security area”. While ISA was in force, there was another law in full force throughout Malaysia and called Firearms (increased penalties) Act 1971 which intended to provide increased penalties for the “use of” firearms in “commission of” certain offences.

A person has been arrested, accused of robbery, probably using his pistol and fired once during holdup –Armed robbery- and there are two laws in place to decide his future – Internal Security Act and Firearms (increased penalties) Act. The prosecutor charged this “robber” for three accounts namely armed hold-up, possession of firearm and possession of ammunitions. Possession charges were under ISA hence trialed in Penang High Court while the other was trialed separately before the Magistrate’s Court.

Shouldn’t prosecutor have thought about the scenario under which an offence is committed? Was commission of this offence really a threat or an attack on “internal security”? Was it really an act of “subversion”? Was that “robber” really such a big threat to internal security that charges were filed under ISA and not under the Firearm (increased penalties) Act? A trial under ISA means “mandatory death”, yes a “mandatory death” on conviction even if you were in possession of a simple non-functional part of a firearm or bullets, leave alone a complete working weapon. The legislature at the time of setting out the legislation should have clearly distinguished the acts presumed to be a threat to internal security and subversive. Further down, Prosecutor/Attorney General shall dutifully think if he is throwing a man to mandatory death for just possessing a weapon and not even using it in a manner causing internal security or subversive situation? When an individual is using firearms and causing a threat to internal security and terror, it’s understandable to apply provisions of ISA but to a robber?

Defence counsel, Mr. Karpal Singh, raised the very point on the suitability of legislation, however, judge Arulanandom rejected his point declaring it as a prerogative of the Prosecutor and ultimately the “robber” was convicted and sentenced to “mandatory” death. His appeal was rejected by Federal Court and subsequently, an appeal before Pardon board was also rejected thus upholding death sentence for the “robber” – Teh Cheng Poh. Teh took his counsel to file a petition before Privy Council, London and Privy Council agreed to the Karpal’s submission that Essential (security cases) regulations under which trial was conducted stand unconstitutional and thus nullified the Penang High Court trial

What was driving the Attorney General – Rule of Law, Supremacy of State or personal ego? Govt introduced new legislation to parliament giving retrospective effect to earlier regulations nullified by Privy Council and thus a “re-trial” for the “robber” and that too again under ISA to ensure “Mandatory death”.

Teh Cheng Poh’s counsel filed a civil lawsuit against Malaysian cabinet and right there is a 2nd trial. In his 2nd trial, High Court again sentenced him to death and subsequent appeals before Federal Court & Pardon board were rejected again. Teh Cheng Poh – the “robber” used every judicial forum and finally reached to gallows on 4 march 1981 leaving behind a Lawsuit pending against Malaysian cabinet. A “robber” was robbed by Govt for his “life”. A Justice is not simply bringing a case to “some” conclusion or punishing someone convicted but to ensure a “Fair & Just” trial and then equally “Fair & Just” punishment. Taking away life against the commission of a robbery is JUSTICE?

Another Court-battle

A long battle of rights for the “patients”, as claimed by both Govt. and protesting unions, came to an end with the judgment of Peshawar High Court (PHC) dismissing all seven petitions challenging Medical teaching institutions reforms act (MTI Act 2015) and declaring it an enactment of competent legislature and hence constitutional. Just after a short break, now parties are back in the court and this time, it’s about the dissolution of Postgraduate medical institute (PGMI). As the matter is sub judice and Govt. has yet to submit its position so hoping that it will be settled soon.

Meanwhile looking at the response from the doctors and suspending healthcare function for a time, one wonders what’s so serious happening in this regard. There have been some negotiations between doctors association (twenty plus unions and it’s so confusing that I don’t know who is who) with the chief minister who attended their grievances and one shall hope that govt. will fulfill the promises made during negotiations. On 26 January 2016 govt. notified the decisions of the competent authority with regard to PGMI Hayatabad, Peshawar.

PGMI was created in 1984 with an aim to impart postgraduate medical training to doctors and was headed by a Dean. PGMI is affiliated with Khyber Medical University, Peshawar for the award of degree and accredited by College of Physicians & Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) & Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC) with respect to award of diploma certificates. PGMI acts as a central body to select and distribute trainee medical officers (TMOs) among its constituent & affiliated colleges for FCPS, MCPS & other PG Diploma courses. In 2013, PGMI was administering training, salary and other general matters of 1413 TMOs spread over ten medical colleges and 5 cities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Govt. notified on 26 January 2016 that each MTI shall have a Postgraduate wing (PG Wing) to be headed by Associate Dean. Under MTI regulations, a Dean of the MTI will select an associate dean for approval from Board of Governors to be appointed as head of PG Wing. The associate dean will be responsible for PG Medical education in the institution, will report academic council after every 3 months. This will certainly offer an opportunity for the closer monitoring of PG training at the institutional level.

It further notified a Central Induction Committee comprising Associate Deans of all MTIs. Chairman of the central induction committee will be appointed by govt. from amongst the Ass. Deans in central induction committee for 2 years on the rotation basis. Central induction committee will induct trainee medical officers for different specialties twice a year however the inductions for specialty and diploma shall be with prior input from the MTIs with respect to teaching capacity and specialties sanctioned by CPSP.

All administrative, financial and academic activities of the TMOs deployed in nearly 10 hospitals in 5 cities through PGM Peshawar will now be managed by right at the medical institute they are attached with, provided govt. passed the test before PHC. The finance department will release the stipends of TMOs to each medical institute where MTI Act 2015 is in force and Health department will pay stipends to those TMOs deployed in medical institutes currently not under MTI Act 2015.

Protecting the employment of medical faculty & administrative staff of the PGMI, the medical faculty of PGMI currently assigned to LRH and all administrative staff of PGMI will be absorbed by MTI Lady Reading Hospital (MTI LRH). Both medical faculty & administrative staff absorbed in MTI LRH will have freedom to exercise their right to be absorbed either as government servant or institutional employee. Accordingly, medical faculty of PGMI currently assigned to Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC) will be absorbed by MTI HMC and absorbing employee can choose to be absorbed as government servant or institutional employee. Govt will continue to pay for these absorbed employees. All such proportional payments will be included into grant-in-aid to these MTIs thus taking complete ownership of all these employees and protecting their employment.

In order to monitor and improve PG training quality, Associate Dean in each MTI is required to report every 3 months on training quality matter to the academic council of the institute. Further, in this regard Associate Deans of all PG Wings are required to meet quarterly with chairman central induction committee as the head. The final outcome responsibility on the PG training has been shifted from one PGMI Dean to all MTIs thus causing a competitive environment for the PG Training.

Going through the existing PGMI administrative system, knowing concerns of doctor unions represented by Dr Alamgir, reported concerns from the petition filed before PHC by Dr Hussain Haroon and notified PG training set up by govt one shall be able to have a clear picture on nature of the conflict on PGMI dissolution and subsequent impact on Doctors pursuing PG training and for the public at large.