August 26, 2008 / 9:43 AM / 10 years ago

Malaysian govt submits controversial DNA bill

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia’s government on Tuesday submitted a controversial law that will require anyone charged with a crime to provide DNA samples, a measure some lawmakers fear will be used against opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim.

The bill started its second reading in parliament on Tuesday just as Anwar, who has been charged with sodomising a male aide, was standing in a by-election in which he hopes to return to parliament after a decade-long absence.

“Why are we being asked to debate this bill first. We have not had time to read and prepare for the debate. The time given is too short,” said Fong Po Kuan a legislator from the opposition Democratic Action Party.

Anwar was convicted of sodomy in the late 1990s after a graphic trial in which a mattress on which he was alleged to have had sex with a man was repeatedly produced in court.

He was freed from jail in 2004 after a court quashed his sodomy conviction.

Anwar has refused to give a DNA sample in the present sodomy case. His supporters fear if a sample is taken, it would be tampered with so as to incriminate him at his new trial, which starts on Sept. 10.

The ruling coalition has a majority in parliament and the bill requires a simple majority to pass. It will require a third reading to become law, which is a formality.

There were about 15 government MPs and 10 opposition MPs in parliament on Tuesday.

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