(Kuala Lumpur, Monday): The case of Lim Guan Eng is not only a case of injustice affecting Guan Eng, it also highlights the gross lack of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance for all Malaysians in the country.
I believe that Malaysians went through three reactions when they first heard the Court of Appeal decision on April 1, 1998 enhancing the RM15,000 fine with a 36-month jail sentence for Sedition Act and Printing Presses and Publications Act offences. They were firstly disbelief that there could be such sentences for an MP who had not committed any crime as robbery, rape or murder but who had only responded to a grandmotherís plea for help to defend the human rights and women rights of her underaged granddaughter against the most influential, powerful and mighty person in the state. In fact, Guan Eng should not have been prosecuted at all and he is clearly a victim of selective prosecution by the Attorney-General.
The second and third reactions were those of shock and outrage that such injustices could happen in a society like Malaysia which wants to take her place in the world as a progressive and vibrant civil society.
The question Malaysians have been asking since the Court of Appeal decision on April 1, 1998 is that if a Member of Parliament who conscientiously and diligently discharges his duties by championing the weak, defenceless and oppressed against the strong, influential, powerful and the mighty has to end up in jail for 36 months and the underaged girl who is victim of statutory rape has to serve a period in detention, while the accused continues to be as free as a bird, what justice, democracy and good governance is there in Malaysia?
Is this what Vision 2020 is all about? Vision 2020 talks about a united Malaysian society, a caring and just society, infused by strong moral and ethical values! The case involving the underaged girl, Lim Guan Eng and Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Chik makes a complete mockery of Vision 2020. Are we therefore moving towards or away from Vision 2020?
The Lim Guan Eng case is not only about justice for Guan Eng. It is also about the great issues of freedom of expression, the role of MPs, independence of the judiciary, the future of democracy and good governance which must be the concern of all right-thinking and far-seeing Malaysians.
If there is justice, freedom, democracy and good governance, Malaysia will not face the multiple crises of today, whether national economic crisis, water shortage crisis, haze crisis, EPF crisis or crisis of confidence in the judiciary.
Malaysia has suddenly been reduced from a first-class world nation comparable with the most developed countries in the West into a third-rate nation where even the most basic human needs of the people such as clean air, piped water, adequate food or basic health facilities could not be met.
The challenge to Malaysians is how the nation-wide outrage over the injustice of the Lim Guan Eng case could be transformed into a peopleís power demanding justice, freedom, democracy and good governance in Malaysia.
The issues highlighted by the Lim Guan Eng case transcends personality, race, religion, gender or party politics and should be the concern of all Malaysians and the civil society.
This is why we welcome Malaysians who have volunteered for the "Lim Guan Eng Support Group and Volunteers for Justice, Freedom, Democracy and Good Governance" to make their contribution to make Malaysia a better country where all Malaysians could be proud because justice, freedom, democracy and good governance flourish in the country.
The first meeting of Malaysians in the Klang Valley who have volunteered for the "Lim Guan Eng Support Group and Volunteers for Justice, Freedom, Democracy and Good Governance" would be held next Wednesday, 13th May 1998 to discuss what Malaysians and the civil society can do to save Guan Eng and promote justice, freedom, democracy and good government in Malaysia. We welcome more Malaysians to volunteer their services in this common cause.