The 36-month jail sentence for Guan Eng for helping a weak and defenceless Malay underaged girl has created a crisis of confidence in the system of justice in Malaysia


Speech
-"Support, Sympathy and Solidarity
with Lim Guan Eng" Ceramah
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): When Malacca DAP State Chairman, Sdr. Sim Tong Hin told me on Friday that Malacca State DAP wanted to organise a "Support, Sympathy and Solidarity with Lim Guan Eng" ceramah tonight, I asked whether there was adequate time to inform concerned members of the public in less than 48 hours.

The big crowd tonight despite the short notice shows that the people of Malacca really cared about justice and fairplay, and your presence is a demonstration of your support, sympathy and solidarity with Guan Eng in his very trying times.

Twelve years ago, when Guan Eng took his first plunge in politics, contesting in the Kota Melaka parliamentary seat, I had not expected him to embark on the road to Kajang Prisons.

Opposition politics is a long and arduous road, and Opposition leaders must be prepared to face trials and tribulations for standing up for the rights of the people and the larger interests of the nation.

Guan Eng lost his personal freedom during Operation Lalang when he was detained under the Internal Security Act for 18 months in 1987-8. Now, he has been jailed for 36 months and is treated as a common criminal, although he is appealing to the Federal Court.

I do not hold any hopes in Guan Eng’s appeal to the Federal Court after the unbelievable outcome of the Court of Appeal last Wednesday, which not only dismissed Guan Eng’s appeals against conviction and sentence on the charges under the Sedition Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act, but enhanced the sentences by setting aside the RM15,000 fine with three years’ jail sentence.

Does Guan Eng deserve to be jailed like a common criminal for three years? Did he steal, rob or murder? Did he try to attack and destroy the judiciary?

Malaysians of all races know that Guan Eng has done nothing of such criminal acts. He never set out to attack the judiciary. All he did was to respond to the pleas for help of a Malay grandmother who had nobody to turn to defend the human rights and woman rights of her underaged granddaughter as the protagonist was the then powerful and mighty Malacca State Chief Minister.

This was why the three-year jail sentence handed down by the Court of Appeal last Wednesday had created shock, disbelief and outrage among Malaysians, who had hoped that Guan Eng’s appeal against conviction and sentence might be successful.

The Malacca High Court sentence of RM15,000 fine, disqualifying Guan Eng as Member of Parliament and depriving him of his civic rights to stand for elections and to vote for five years were already harsh enough - and nobody expected that there could be an enhancement of the sentence to 36 months in jail!

The 36-month jail sentence has been met with cries of anguish, agony and even despair by large numbers of Malaysians for they know that Guan Eng is not a criminal, but a dedicated and committed Member of Parliament conscientiously and diligently discharging his duties as an elected MP to protect the weak and defenceless and champion the rights of all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or gender.

The 36-month jail sentence for Guan Eng for helping the weak and defenceless against the mighty and powerful has created a crisis of confidence in the system of justice in Malaysia.

In the past few days, many Malaysians have conveyed their sorrow, concern and anguish and asked how they could help.

They could show their sympathy, support and solidarity with Guan Eng in the most trying time of his life. They should also assert their rights to shape the destiny of Malaysia to ensure that the values and concepts of justice, of simple right and wrong, as understood by common Malaysians are also the values and concepts of justice upheld by the system of justice in the country.

(5/4/98)


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