International Parliamentary Union (IPU) to send a mission to Malaysia on the Lim Guan Eng case

Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Dewan Rakyat, Monday): The International Parliamentary Union (IPU) at its 162nd Council meeting in Windhoek, Namibia, on Saturday, 11th April 1998, has decided to send a mission to Malaysia on the Lim Guan Eng case "in view of the important issues involved in the case".

In a lengthy resolution on the Lim Guan Eng case, the International Parliamentary Council expressed deep concern at the public statement made by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad defending the 36-month jail term handed down by the Court of Appeal on Guan Eng making it difficult for the Federal Court to fairly and independently exercise its judicial jurisdiction in Guan Eng’s appeal against both the conviction and the sentence on Sedition Act and Printing Presses and Publications Act charges given that the Yang di Pertuan Agong has to act on the Prime Minister’s advice on all judicial appointments.

On the sedition charge against Guan Eng, the International Parliamentary Council recalled that Guan Eng’s statement "reflected widespread public disquiet" over the handling of the alleged statutory rape case involving the underaged girl and the then Malacca Chief Minister, Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Chik and "that in November 1994 the daughter of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed published an article under the title ‘Whither Justice?’ In which she described the authorities’ treatment of the girl as a ‘gross mockery of justice’."

The International Parliamentary Council resolution, among other things, said it

RoundTable Conference of Sympathy, Support and Solidarity with Lim Guan Eng at Federal Hotel on Thursday

The role of MPs, whether Malaysia should have effective and articulate MPs or deaf and dumb MPs, is one of the many public policy issues raised by the Lim Guan Eng case.

A RoundTable Conference of Support, Sympathy and Solidarity with Lim Guan Eng would be held at the Federal Hotel, (Banquet Hall), Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, 16th April 1998 at 7.30 p.m.

Panellists would be leading opinion makers in Malaysia. Confirmed panellists are:

On April Fools’ Day, 1st April 1998, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeals against conviction and sentence by DAP Deputy Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng, on Sedition Act and Printing Presses and Publications Act charges and allowed the cross-appeals by the Public Prosecutor and the enhancement of the sentences from RM15,000 fine to three years' jail.

In announcing the decision, the Court of Appeal judge, Justice Datuk Gopal Sri Ram said in open court that "It is time that the court sends a clear message that it cannot tolerate any attack on the judiciary";

The 36 months’ jail sentence on Guan Eng is doubly tragic, for Guan Eng as well as for the nation. Tragic for Guan Eng, as he never attacked the judiciary. All he did was to respond to the pleas for help of a Malay grandmother who had nowhere to turn to in the fight to defend the human rights and women rights of her underaged grand-daughter against the mighty and powerful Malacca Chief Minister at the time, Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Cik. Guan Eng went to the help of the Malay grandmother and her underaged grand-daughter because of the manifest injustice where the victim of statutory rape was in detention while Rahim was free. Now, this saga has been further compounded where, added on the previous episode of the underaged girl in detention, Rahim free, the latest sequel is Guan Eng to go to prison!

Tragic for the nation because it has far-reaching implications for the country, such as:

In a sense, it is not just Guan Eng who is on trial, the Malaysia nation is on trial. This year is the tenth anniversary of the greatest judicial crisis in Malaysian history in 1988. The country has never recovered from the judicial crisis ten years ago, but had been tottering from one crisis of confidence in the judiciary to another in the past decade.

There is now a new crisis of confidence in the system of justice, when the judiciary’s interpretation of justice is completely at variance with the society’s understanding of justice, as in the case of the 36-month jail sentence for Guan Eng for defending the human rights and women rights of the underaged Malay girl.

This is why the Court of Appeal decision on April 1 had been met with a shockwave of disbelief and outrage in the country and this may be one of the defining events as to the nature of the civil society Malaysia is building in the new millennium to begin in 20 months’ time.

The RoundTable Conference of Support, Sympathy and Solidarity with Lim Guan Eng will address these public policy concerns and implications and is open to the public by invitation. Those interested can contact 03-7578022, 03-7578127; 03-7547426; 016-2255003; 012-2929859 for further details.


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