(Malacca, Tuesday): Today, DAP Deputy Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng, begins his third week in Kajang Prisons - not for committing any heinous crimes like arson, armed robbery, rape or murder, but for discharging diligently, conscientiously and courageously his duties as a Member of Parliament seeking to defend the honour, woman rights and human rights of a 15-year-old girl.
Jailed for 18 months each under the Sedition Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act, Guan Eng is disqualified as a Member of Parliament, denied his citizen rights to stand for elective office for five years from the day he steps out of prison and struck off as a certified accountant, unless he gets a full pardon from the Yang di Pertuan Agong.
Today, the first batch of 203,933 signatures of the nation-wide mass signature campaign appealing to the Yang di Pertuan Agong to pardon Lim Guan Eng so that he would not be disqualified as MP and can continue his good work for the people and country was submitted to the Istana Negara.
This is a heart-warming response from Malaysians regardless of race, religion, gender or age, as it shows that Malaysians do care and a testimony of the dismay, shock, grief and outrage felt by the nation and people at the injustice of the Lim Guan Eng case.
I believe that it is a record in the nationís mass signature campaign that 203,933 signatures could be collected in ten days, when the whole mass signature campaign machinery, in terms of publicity, organisation and human resources, have not yet been fully put in place.
My family and I want to express my heart-felt thanks to Malaysians for their great gesture of support, sympathy and solidarity with Lim Guan Eng - not only in signing the petition to the Yang di Pertuan Agong, but in taking part in collecting signatures for the petition.
The biggest mass signature campaign launched by the DAP so far is the Save Bukit China campaign in 1984 where we collected 250,000 signatures, but it took us three months to collect a quarter of a million signatures - which not only saved the most ancient Chinese cemetry hill in the country, but saved Malaysia by effectively ending the governmentís policy of assimilation of one-language, one culture and paved the way for the minor liberalisation in language, education and culture in the early nineties, vindicating the DAPís struggle for a nation-building policy of integration which gives full respect and recognition to Malaysia as a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious society.
I want to salute the people of Malacca, for in the first phase of the "Pardon Guan Eng campaign", they have led all other states in returning 41,638 signatures out of the total of 203,933 signatures or 20.41 per cent submitted to the Yang di Pertuan Agong by the Council for Justice, Freedom, Democracy and Good Governance this morning.
The others in the lead in the first phase of the mass signature campaign
for Guan Eng are:
Tomorrow, the second phase of the signature campaign would be officially launched in Petaling Jaya, which is for a period of one month. Although the target for the second phase of the signature campaign is another 200,000 signatures, I believe this target can be exceeded as the period is for one whole month, especially as more new features of the "smart" mass signature campaign should be employed.
Many states have not fully used the potential of the great reservoir of support for the mass signature campaign, particularly Perak, Penang, Selangor, Federal Territory and Selangor. Even Malacca should be capable of playing a leading role in terms the number of signatures collected in the second phase of the mass signature campaign.
I will inform Guan Eng when I next visit him in Kajang Prisons about the great response of the people of Malaysia to the mass signature campaign and I am sure that this will make his prison life a little more bearable - even when he has to sleep on the cement floor without any mattress, with the light in his cell on 24 hours a day.