Commentary: Malaysia’s own forensic DNA databank will be a reality

Interesting news today, pertaining to Malaysia’s development on the forensics aspect of DNA.

According to NST Online today (Forensic DNA databank soon), Malaysia will soon have its own national databank which will hold the DNA profiles of thousands of criminals and suspects. This is good news indeed for the citizens.

Bad news for the career-criminals.

Since the discovery of the DNA structure in the early 1950s by Watson and Crick, DNA has been the never-ending subject of fascination, especially in the fields of medicine, forensics and crime-fiction. In forensics, DNA is the next best discovery since fingerprints. I say next best discovery, only because fingerprints in comparison are considerably far more individualistic than DNA. A pair of twins may share the same DNA, but they do not share the same fingerprints. Unlike fingerprints, however, DNA evidence is more robust and generally a lot more resistant. You can still obtain a DNA sample from a 5000 year-old bone for analysis, for example. And it doesn’t matter how minute the sample evidence is – you can amplify a DNA profile through PCR (polymerase-chain reaction) technique.

Nevertheless, the subject on DNA databank will definitely bring about all sorts of reactions – ranging from elation to paranoia. Paranoia because in today’s day and age, what with the growing advances of technology in every field, people feel that their own personal securities and privacies are constantly at risk. The number of identity theft is increasing every year. So what of DNA information, then? It’s also quite possible to fake a DNA evidence. It’s been done before (re: the case of Dr. John Schneeberger).

Please note that the good Dr. Schneeberger, however ingenious the plan he cooked up sounded like, still ended up in the dock with a judge reading out the guilty verdict to him.

Maybe a DNA evidence can be planted, but no matter what, your DNA code cannot be manipulated. Dr. Schneeberger obviously was not paying attention during his Bio-chemistry classes back in med-school. Forensic investigation techniques are meant to sniff out the lies and the planted evidence. It also boils down to the integrity of the investigator himself.

On the positive outlook, a forensic DNA databank will be a good investment for Malaysia. The profiles will generate a link that may be overlooked in two separate cases at two separate occasions. The existence of a national databank will be very effective in solving crimes, especially in sex-related crimes. The United Kingdom has the biggest DNA databank in the world, and since its introduction in the 1980s, thousands of crimes have been solved through DNA matches against the existing profiles in their databank, and a large number of them are homicide and rape cases. The alarming increase in sexual-assaults locally in recent years is enough proof that the need for a national DNA databank is long-overdue. Conviction with a DNA evidence is damning. Evidence does not lie, especially biological ones.

Just as long as its integrity remains intact, through and through.

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8 responses to “Commentary: Malaysia’s own forensic DNA databank will be a reality

  1. This blog is so neat, impressive! Hey, thanks for the tip on Flock. it worked like a charm.

    Great updates and insights on DNA fingerprinting. If there is a way to manipulate something, someone somewhere will be sure to do it. Crime busters have to stay ahead of the game. Looks like the criminals are winning in Malaysia. I really hope this is a whole new approach to evidence gathering and interpretation. No point in buying fancy stuff if no one knows how the hell to work it let alone interpret the results so you nab the bad guys and the charges stick in court. You got a lot of work to do after you graduate girl!

  2. I’m glad I could help 🙂

    I’m looking forward to the working world. It’s going to be tough, but that’s the whole challenge. I just hope that this DNA databank won’t just be another of Malaysia’s white elephant.

  3. On the good justice side of DNA evidence, many courts and penal systems are being forced in the USA to review past convictions that were based on less than stellar evidence where today’s DNA review has overturned evidence of the past. Some unfairly convicted individuals are now being released after ten and twenty years of prison.

    On the other side of breakthroughs in medicine here is an article on the discovery of a potential virus behind merkel cell carcinoma.

    George

    http://groups.google.com/group/merkelcell/browse_thread/thread/98c65a6493deffac/2acc9d364c589e06?hl=en&lnk=st&q=merkel+cell+cancer#2acc9d364c589e06

  4. George, thanks for commenting. The link you have provided is a very big deal indeed. I am so glad that so many medical breakthroughs have surfaced with DNA and stem cell research.

    Yes, DNA has come a long way and its importance is undeniable. The acquittal of people who are not guilty of the convictions based on DNA evidence reexaminations would give them a new lease of life, though sadly it probably won’t erase the horrible experience they’ve acquired in prisons.

    Unfortunately, there are some cases where DNA evidence is not definitive. For example, BBC News recently reported last December that the DNA evidence for Sean Hoey’s trial was not conclusive, resulting his acquittal over the Omagh bombing charges.

  5. Pingback: A history of fingerprints « Diagnosis Crime·

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