Lawyers: Denial of bail in pollution case perplexing

17 Sep 2020 / 12:20 H.

PETALING JAYA: Lawyers are puzzled by the decision of the Selayang sessions court to deny bail for four directors and a manager who were charged in court on Tuesday over the pollution of Sungai Gong in Rawang.

Lawyer Datuk M. Reza Hassan, who is counsel for the four directors, all of whom are brothers, and the manager of Yip Chee Seng and Sons Sdn Bhd, told theSun yesterday that the sessions court had exercised its discretion in not granting bail but the decision is “highly unusual”.

He said the prosecution had submitted that there was a risk of evidence-tampering in the case.

“They must furnish evidence of tampering. It is quite perplexing as bail is merely to secure attendance in court and must not be used to deny a person’s liberty while the court of law determines if he is guilty.”

Reza said an appeal to seek bail for the five men is under way.

Two other lawyers shared similar opinions.

Lawyer Manoharan Malayalam said the offences are bailable and the decision to deny the accused bail is illegal.

“Why keep them locked up even before they are found guilty? Perhaps the court wants this to be a deterent to other potential and similar offenders.

“However, this is illegal and cruel. It is a breach of fundamental rights which is enshrined in the Federal Constitution,” he said.

“The Shah Alam High Court should intervene and call it up for a revision. The accused are neither a flight risk due to the Covid-19 travel restrictions nor can they tamper with evidence or witnesses.

“While the public is the victim, the witnesses are made up of professionals who investigated the case. Moreover, how can they tamper with evidence when the workshop premise is sealed?”

Criminal lawyer K. A. Ramu said although the case is of public interest, the accused should have a right to bail as the law allows for it.

“Perhaps the presiding judge viewed the case as that of public interest, where millions of users were affected by a water cut. However, the prosecution should present a good reason as to why the accused should not be granted bail,” he said.

The four brothers, Yip Kok Wai, 52, Yip Kok Mun, 58, Yip Kok Kuin, 50 and Yip Kok Weng, 60, were jointly charged with their company manager Ho Voon Leong, 59, for “discharging or depositing scheduled waste in the environment leading to pollution” under Section 25 of the Environment Quality Act and “mischief by injury to works of irrigation” under Section 430 of the Penal Code.

They were ordered to be held at the Bentong prison.

The men were held after large quantities of effluents suspected to have originated from their company were found dumped in Sungai Gong.

The effluents led to the pollution of the Sungai Selangor water treatment plant, which resulted in a major water cut in the Klang Valley that affected over 1.2 million households.

Apart from the directors and manager, other employees of the company were also probed.

Read this story on our iPaper: Lawyers: Denial of bail in pollution case perplexing

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