A Glimpse into the Malaysian Criminal Law Practice with YB Gobind Singh Deo
The second son of the late Karpal Singh, one of Malaysia’s leading opposition figures, YB Gobind Singh Deo grew up in politics. He was 14 years old when his father was detained without trial for an indefinite period under the now abolished Internal Security Act. Forced to grow up early, YB Gobind found himself involved in the uphill battle to secure his father’s release. He recalls dealing with the police, visiting detention centres and having to solve problems beyond his years. During this period, he also began researching the law and found the experience empowering. This along with his experience of the criminal justice system shaped his decision to read law and to subsequently become a politician.
Today, YB Gobind is a prominent criminal advocate with his own legal practice. As one of the few criminal lawyers on Advocates the Podcast, he offers a rare glimpse into the Malaysian criminal law practice. Unlike civil litigation, there is minimal documentation available to the defence in criminal matters. Despite this handicap, the defence put forth must be reasonable and consistent with the facts. In order to make up for this lack of documentation, the defence has to mount its own investigation to uncover information and evidence that can be used to challenge the investigating officer’s testimony. The investigation conducted depends on what the defence needs to establish from the investigating officer and could include visiting the crime scene and checking government records.
YB Gobind also handles death penalty cases which he admits sometimes weigh more heavily than other matters, depending on the strength of the defence. However, he maintains that it is important to be professional in these circumstances which means ensuring that if there is a conviction, the prosecution must have fully complied with the law so that a miscarriage of justice does not occur. Conversely, if there has been any violation of the law by the prosecution that can be used to the client’s advantage, this argument has to be taken to the hilt. In terms of his relationship with these clients, he says it is important that they feel they can level with him so that any matters arising can be dealt with quickly.
In addition to his busy criminal practice, YB Gobind has also been a Member of Parliament since 2008. Drawing on the adversity he faced in his youth, he has channelled his personal experiences into a career which centeres around helping people as a lawyer and politician.
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