Layman’s View of DNA Use

So much has been said about DNA and today’s article in Malaysia Kini (read here) have presented the public’s view of the situation.  It’s certainly very interesting to show the level of maturity and appreciation of the Malaysian public in the matter.

Why is the PM, Police and Saiful’s dad clamoring for Anwar’s DNA?  Why is Anwar’s DNA profile done 10 years ago considered “old”?  Did Anwar mutate?  Is there a flawed understanding about DNA profiles?  Or is there a conspiracy theory to this entire episode?  Read on…

A DNA profile is like a blood test report.  Once you’ve been tested as A+, the report shows the details and that’s it for the rest of your life.  Your blood type doesn’t change when you get older.  So there’s no need to have fresh blood to re-test to prove you are A+.  DNA profile done 10 years ago doesn’t change today.  Unless Anwar mutated.  The profile is the report and you can compare an alleged person’s DNA profile to that report to verify if they are the same person.  It’s an identity check only.

Now when there’s so much hoo hah over the demands to get Anwar’s blood specimen, many wild thoughts indeed spring up.

  • was the DNA profile done 10 years ago really belongs to Anwar?
  • why is the DNA profile done 10 years ago “old”?  is it unusable?  for what purpose is it considered old?
  • if the blood specimen taken 10 years ago was used today, can the experts tell that the evidence contains blood that is not current (within the timeframe the alleged sodomisation took place)?
  • if the blood specimen is taken from Anwar now, who can guarantee that it is not misused?
  • if Anwar’s DNA is somehow extracted from Saiful’s clothes or private parts, what does it really prove?

Interesting food for thought.  DNA is not the end all in proving the case nor does it disprove.  Let’s not be be naive and misled.

DNA is not timestamped.  Even if Anwar’s DNA is found on Saiful’s clothes or private parts, the following questions beg answers:

  • when did the DNA transfer take place – was it on 26 June?
  • when did the DNA transfer take place if it’s up Saiful’s – was it on 26 June?
  • how did the DNA transfer take place?  where was the DNA found?  in what form?  can it happen that way?

Now you can see that there is a need to have evidence way beyond just DNA to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the allegation is true.  The defense only needs to shed sufficient doubt on DNA that the entire case is possibly false.

When did it take place is a very specific TIME question.  There must be credible witness(es), video or pictures with clear timestamp of that day and time, and other evidence that puts Anwar and Saiful at the same place and time and enough circumstantial evidence that the allegation did take place.

This is almost impossible to prove the validity of the allegations using DNA.  The allegation is not about any homosexual activity but a specific allegation that he was (1) sodomised – implied against his own volition, forced (read here), (2) at a specific place and (3) at a specific date, (4) by Anwar.  This case has the same challenges as a typcial rape case where DNA alone is not sufficient to prove the charges.

To prove all 4 at the same time beyond reasonable doubt is absolutely difficult.  I’m very keen to see how the evidence stacks up on these 4.  The place is in the police report and so is the date and the confessed presence of Saiful at the same.  Now to get the evidence first from his person with regards to the alleged being sodomised so that it’s not merely hearsay.  Who and how was it done?  Can an independent expert verify the facts?  The police went to the place and checked it out thoroughly.

Now to add Anwar’s presence and alleged sodomising action on Saiful at the same place and same time is going to be absolutely challenging unless there are credible witnesses and powerful evidence to place Anwar at the scene and performed the alleged sodomisation.  It is not about DNA.  Finding Anwar’s DNA merely says that he was there at some point in time but not necessarily at the alleged time.  Or if the evidence of his DNA is not from a credible source in the location, then it could have been planted.  Is it an old DNA source?

For now, the DNA issue is totally blown out of proportion and politicised beyond recognizing what DNA evidence can actually do.  Skip the wayang kulit and get on with the investigation and charge Anwar in court or end the entire episode.  We need to move on!  Enough talk about DNA for now and enough misleading the public that when Anwar gives his DNA specimen that it will prove or disprove the allegations.

Enough of this nonsense please!  We are becoming an international laughing stock and looking like idiots.

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One Comment to “Layman’s View of DNA Use”

  1. We all watch enough of CSI to know how to approach the issue. The police, who had special trainings could not even understand this … they should watch more CSI…. hahahaha

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