(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): Gerakan President and Primary Industries Minister, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik said at the Teluk Intan by-election nomination centre yesterday that the DAP would abuse the judicial process by exploiting the judgment against DAP Deputy Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng to gain political capital and the peopleís support in the Teluk Intan by-election. He further alleged that this would create the grave consequences of undermining public confidence in the judiciary.
He advised the DAP not to continue to abuse the judicial process as an issue to gain political mileage so as not to undermine public confidence in the Judiciary.
He asked the DAP not to forget the two election petitions in Sarawak which had been instituted by the opposition resulting in the courts declaring the election of two state assembly seats null and void and requiring fresh by-elections to be held. Keng Yaik said this was proof of the independence of the judiciary in Malaysia.
I would like to invite Keng Yaik to conclude a gentlemanís agreement that the Gerakan and DAP would conduct a fair, clean and honourable election campaign for the Teluk Intan parliamentary by-election, where there would be no "dirty tricks", no money politics and even more important, no "black propaganda", lies or untruths about the opposing candidate or party in the campaign.
It is important to Gerakan and to the DAP to do well in the Teluk Intan by-election, but let us do it honourably, without sacrificing the Asian values of honesty, truthfulness and fair play! Let Gerakan and DAP show that although winning the Teluk Intan by-election is very important, it must take second place to these noble values of honesty, truthfulness and fair play!
Keng Yaik had accused me of attacking the Judiciary for bias and lack of independence and impartiality in the case of Guan Eng, who has been convicted of offences under the Sedition Act and Printing Presses and Publications Act and fined RM15,000, disqualifying him from being a Member of Parliament as well as depriving him of his constitutional right to stand for any elective office or even to cast his vote for five years. I challenge Keng Yaik to produce proof that I had ever attacked the Judiciary for bias, lack of independence and impartiality over the conviction of Guan Eng - and if Keng Yaik cannot produce such proof, he should be gentleman enough to publicly apologise and retract his allegation. This would be the first proof that Keng Yaik is prepared to accept my invitation that in the Teluk Intan by-election, both Gerakan and DAP should conduct a fair, clean and honourable by-election campaign!
I am inviting Keng Yaik to join me in establishing a new political culture for political leaders in Malaysia on the eve of the new millennium, where political leaders can be humble enough to publicly admit they are wrong - as to concede publicly when they cannot produce any evidence to support serious allegations they have made against others.
Let me inform Keng Yaik what I had and had not said in connection with the conviction of Guan Eng under the offences of Sedition Act and Printing Presses and Publications Act and his disqualification as a Member of Parliament.
Firstly, I had never questioned or challenged the decision of the Malacca High Court finding Guan Eng guilty of the offences of sedition and publishing false news. I do not agree with the judgement of the Court but I fully accept that if there is to be a challenge of its decisions, it must be made through the proper legal process and this will be done by Guan Eng through the process of appeal.
Secondly, I do not question or challenge the Prime Minister, the Cabinet or the Barisan Nasional Government for the decision to prosecute Lim Guan Eng for sedition and publishing false news under the Printing Presses and Publications Act, or the subsequent decision to appeal against the sentence of RM15,000 fine and to demand a jail sentence to be imposed on Guan Eng, for under Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution, the decision to "initiate, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence" is at the sole discretion of the Attorney-General, which cannot be influenced by anyone, whether the Prime Minister or the Yang di Pertuan Agong.
I will adhere to the letter of the law in the Constitution unless Keng Yaik implies otherwise, that the absolute discretion of the Attorney-General, Datuk Mohtar Abdullah to "initiate, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence" is not really absolute, but subject to the directives of the Cabinet or the Prime Minister.
In these circumstances, Keng Yaikís reference to two decisions in Sarawak quashing the election of two Barisan Nasional assemblymen and requiring new by-elections is completely irrelevant - as the independence and impartiality of the judiciary is not an issue at all.
What I have done in Parliament last week and will continue outside Parliament is to question the Attorney-General in the exercise of his discretionary powers in a series of highly controversial cases when exercising his discretionary powers to "initiate, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence", such as the withdrawal of corruption charges against Jeffrey Kitingan after he defected from the Opposition to Barisan Nasional; the withdrawal of the Police Act charge of unlawful assembly against Yong Teck Lee which was initially preferred against him when he was in the Opposition in PBS and which would have entailed his automatic disqualification as Sabah State Assemblyman and denial of his opportunity to become Sabah Chief Minister to a charge under the Penal Code after defecting to the Barisan Nasional; the failure to charge former Malacca Chief Minister, Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Cik although 14 others were charged on the uncorroborated evidence of the underaged girl for statutory rape; the provision of a very light alternative charge under the Penal Code for the four UMNO Youth leaders who rioted and broke up the APCET II Conference in Kuala Lumpur last November, as the original charge under the Police Act would have disqualified one UMNO Assemblyman in Perak and ended the political careers of three UMNO Youth leaders.
These highly controversial decisions show a pattern of misuse of the Attorney-Generalís discretionary powers, including the selective prosecution of the Opposition and NGOs.
Let Keng Yaik address this issue of the grave problem of misuse of powers by the Attorney-General in the exercise of his discretionary powers of prosecution, and not raise issues like the independence of the judiciary in the conviction of Lim Guan Eng, which I had not raised.
If Keng Yaik agrees that from the cases that I had cited, the Attorney-General has to be accountable to the public to answer the charge of abuse of powers of prosecution, then let Keng Yaik say what he had done in the Cabinet or outside to defend and uphold Article 145(3) of the Malaysian Constitution to stop further misuses of discretionary powers or selective prosecutions.
If Keng Yaik believes that the Attorney-General was right in the way he decided with regard to Jeffrey Kitingan, Yong Teck Lee, Rahim Tamby Cik and the UMNO Youth leaders who rioted at the APCET II meeting, then let him declare it publicly and defend his position!
It is my hope that in the Teluk Intan by-election, Keng Yaik, as Gerakan President and Primary Industries Minister, would be able and be prepared to seriously discuss weighty issues which trouble all Malaysians and not regard the whole by-election as a mere circus.