DAP to consider moving a motion of no confidence in Datuk Mohtar Abdullah as Attorney-General for misuse of his discretionary powers, including the selective prosecution against the Opposition and NGOs


Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): I had made a very serious charge against the Attorney-General in Parliament that Datuk Mohtar Abdullah had lost public confidence that he would be a fair, impartial and judicial custodian of the law in the series of highly controversial decisions he had made in pursuance of the exercise of his discretionary powers provided under Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution to "institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence".

I had said that these decisions show a pattern of bias and even malice in the exercise of his discretionary powers to "institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for any offence" and that the prosecution of DAP Deputy Secretary-General, DAPSY National Chairman and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng, is the latest example.

I want to make it clear that I had at no time either inside or outside Parliament questioned or challenged the decision of the Malacca High Court in finding Guan Eng guilty of offences under the Printing Presses and Publications Act and the Sedition Act, as this is a matter which would have to be decided by the courts, including the appeal stages.

What I do question and challenge is the series of highy controversial decisions by the Attorney-General which clearly indicate abuse of his discretionary powers under Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution, which shows a pattern of selective prosecution of the Opposition and NGOs.

I had listed in Parliament seven cases where the Attorney-General had failed to exercise his discretionary powers fairly and judicially, and this is not a full and exhaustive list.

UMNO Youth leader, Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamid told reporters at the National Congress on Vision 2020 at Sunway Lagoon Resort yesterday that Guan Eng should appeal against the High Court decision if he felt that the court had wrongly found him guilty of publication of false news and sedition.

It is unfortunate that there are Barisan Nasional leaders and MPs, like the UMNO Youth chief, who do not understand the distinction between questioning the exercise of the discretionary powers of the Attorney-General and that of questioning the judgement of a court.

Questioning a matter under judicial consideration is sub judice but questioning the exercise of the discretionary powers of the Attorney-General is legitimate and perfectly in order, as had been conceded by the High Court Judge, Mr. Justice Mohd Noor Abdullah, who presided over the trial of Lim Guan Eng.

I appreciate the statement made by Just World Trust director Dr. Chandra Muzaffar who said Lim Guan Engís case has had an adverse impact on Malaysiaís image overseas as well as the outrage expressed by the President of Parti Rakyat Malaysia, Dr. Syed Husin Ali.

I am considering moving a Parliamentary motion of no confidence in Datuk Mohtar Abdullah as Attorney-General for his series of highly controversial decisions underming public confidence in the independence and integrity of the office of Attorney-General.

Such a motion, which would be the first in the history of Malaysian Parliament, would give the Attorney-General the opportunity to anwer the serious charges that he had acted with malice and bias in the exercise of his constitutional discretionary powers to "institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for any offence".

Although the Attorney-General is not a Member of Parliament and has no right to speak in the Dewan Rakyat, Parliament should seriously consider allowing him to appear personally in the Dewan Rakyat to present his own defence.

I will however consult other political parties, NGOs and eminent Malaysians, including Malaysian jurists and lawyers, before deciding whether to move a motion of no confidence in Datuk Mohtar Abdullah as Attorney-General for misuse of his discretionary powers, including the selective prosecution against the Opposition and NGOs.

It is most unfortunate that the National Congress on Vision 2020 should be held under the cloud cast on the image and reputation of Malaysia, both inside the country and overseas, as a result of the controversial decisions of the Attorney-General in exercising his discretionary powers to institute, conduct or discontinue any prosecution.

Social justice must be one of the hallmarks of the fully developed Malaysian society envisaged by Vision 2020, but this has now been thrown into doubt because of the Attorney-Generalís misuse of his discretionary powers as illustrated by the selective prosecution of the Opposition and the NGOs.

The holding of a National Congress on Vision 2020 cannot be more timely , as the Attorney-Generalís series of highly controversial decisions has raised fundamental questions whether we are making progress in the social, moral, ethical, spiritual, psychological and cultural dimensions of Vision 2020.

This is one of the "dark holes" mentioned by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir when opening the National Congress on Vision 2020 which Malaysians must guard against if we are not to lose our sense of direction.

I hope Ahmad Zahid, as UMNO Youth leader, would have the courage to raise these important issues at the National Congress on Vision 2020 instead of giving cheap and gratuitous advice to the DAP.

Ahmad Zahid yesterday advised the DAP leaders to "change their approach to issues and should not view everything negatively". He said "DAP should co-operate with the Government in agreeing on issues which are beneficial to the country such as the cyberlaws."

Although Ahmad Zahid is a Member of Parliament, he is often absent and this is probably why he did not know that I had spoken out, loud and clear, in Parliament during the debate on the Computer Crimes Bill expressing the DAPís support for the cyberlaws.

Ahmad Zahid can be rest assured that although the DAP have disagreements with the Barisan Nasional, the DAP would always put national interests above party or personal differences.

Ahmad Zahid might think that because of the conviction and sentence of Lim Guan Eng for offences under the Sedition Act and Printing Presses and Publications Act involving his disqualificaton as a Member of Parliament, I would withdraw my support for the cyberlaws and the national Information Technology strategy for Malaysia to make the quantum leap into the Information Era.

Malaysians can be assured that DAP leaders are not so petty-minded and whatever our feelings about the case of Lim Guan Eng, our support for the cyberlaws and for Malaysia to make the transition into the Information Society is undimmed and unaffected.

DAPís support for the cyberlaws and a National IT Agenda is not support for the Barisan Nasional Government or Mahathir but support for the good of all Malaysians and future generations!

This is why the DAP will continue with our nation-wide series of seminars on IT and the cyberlaws, with one in Miri tomorrow and one in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, as part of the DAPís commitment to promote "IT For All" and popularise IT to achieve greater IT-literacy and IT-fluency among Malaysians.

However, our support for the cyberlaws and the National IT agenda does not mean blind, unthinking support. As shown in the debate in the Computer Crimes Bill, we have our own views about how to enact the best cyberlaws in the world and how Malaysia should make the quantum leap from the Second Wave to the Third Wave.

In other words, our support will be critical but positive - not to criticise for the sake of criticism and run down proposals and efforts whether on cyberlaws or the National IT Agenda, but to give ideas and proposals as to how we can do better in both areas.

(30/4/97)


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong