(Kajang, Wednesday): The DAP Central Working Committee met last night and welcomed Anwar Ibrahim’s seven-point Permatang Pauh Declaration as a basis for a national movement for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.
Anwar made the Permatang Pauh Declaration on his political reformation
programme on 12th September, which states:
DAP calls on Malaysians, whether political parties, NGOs or like-minded citizens to come together in a grand coalition of co-operation to work for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.
Since the 1995 general elections, there has been a further aggravation in the serious erosion of the institutions of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance which has made confidence-restoration so elusive and intractable despite 15 months of the worst economic crisis in the nation’s history.
The joint statement by former Lord President, Tun Suffian and 13 other Malaysian civic leaders yesterday expressing grave concern at the "steady and increasing disregard for and the erosion of the rule of law and the principles of natural justice" is the latest example of widespread and deepseated concerns at the unending erosion of the institutions of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance in the country.
The civic leaders who joined Tun Suffian in making public their concern about the steady and increasing erosion of the institutions of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance include former presidents of the Bar Council, Raja Aziz Addruse, Datuk Param Cumaraswamy and Zainur Zakaria, social scientist Dr. Chandra Muzaffar and newspaper columnist Rustam A. Sani.
Referring to the 18-month jail sentence on DAP Deputy Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng, the joint statement of the Malaysian civic leaders said it was clear that the court was sending out a message that no one should criticise the judiciary - or to even speak out at all.
"Is the judiciary beyond criticism when even His Majesty the Yang di Pertuan Agong and their Highnesses the Rulers are not?", the statement asked.
The statement said that in Malaysia, it is the duty of judges to safeguard and protect fundamental freedoms of individuals under the constitution.
"Sadly, recent instances of persons being charged in court for perceived contempt of court or for expressing legitimate views have shown the lack of sympathy of judges for these freedoms, in particular the freedom of speech.
"Granted that these freedoms cannot be absolute but must be subject to restrictions, it is still the bounden duty of the courts to ensure that these restrictions are not such as to render these freedoms illusory," the statement said.
Tun Suffian and the other 13 Malaysian civic leaders were also right in drawing attention to many occasions when police had to issue threats to use the Internal Security Act (ISA) against persons suspected of having committed various offences that had no bearing on national security, like cloning of handphones and rumour-mongering through the Internet.
Yesterday, for instance, the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Rahim Noor said several more arrests would be made in connection with investigations into the serious allegations which had been made against former Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim after he confirmed the arrest of Dr. Munawar Anees, an editor with a magazine under Berita Publishing and Mohamad Ahmad, Anwar’s former private secretary. Another of Anwar’s aides, Mohamed Azmin Ali, is also wanted by the police.
Anwar was sacked as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister on Sept. 2 on a multitude of serious allegations involving sexual misconduct, corruption, sedition, murder and treason.
Two weeks have passed but Anwar has neither been charged in court nor questioned by the police in the course of police investigations. Until yesterday, Rahim said that the police had not completed all its investigations. But the police are beginning to arrest more and more people.
Last Saturday, the Director-General of Prisons Department, Omar Mohamad Dan said two prisons have been identified as possible alternatives to the Kamunting detention camp for detainees under the Internal Security Act. They were the Taiping and Pengkalan Chepa prisons, the latter in Kelantan.
Is this an indication that the authorities are preparing for a mass
arrest under the Internal Security Act - akin to the Operation Lalang mass
ISA detentions 11 years ago?
It is most shocking that 14 days after the unprecedented sacking of Anwar as DPM and Finance Minister, the Police has not completed investigations into the various charges made against Anwar nor has the Attorney-General made any decision that there is a prima facie evidence to charge Anwar for any crime.
However, Anwar has already been convicted of the most heinous crimes in a trial by media, both electronic and printed, converting him from the No. 2 man in the country into the No. 1 criminal, guilty of an assortment of heinous crimes of sexual misconduct, corruption, sedition, murder and high treason.
If a Deputy Prime Minister cannot get justice, and can be sacked without the benefit of the fundamental principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty, it is no surprise that Anwar has questioned the independence and impartiality of the judiciary.
It is also a matter of national concern that the very serious allegations made by Anwar that the instruments of government had been manipulated in a political conspiracy to topple him as Deputy Prime Minister is not being addressed in an independent and impartial manner, as by an independent Royal Commission of Inquiry.
It is the general prevalent view that the sacking of Anwar as DPM and Finance Minister when police investigations into the multitude of charges against him had not been completed is patently unjust.
The removal of Anwar as Deputy UMNO President by sacking him as an UMNO member is an UMNO matter for which I would not want to comment, except to remark that the DAP is clearly more democratic than UMNO.
When the DAP took disciplinary action against three leaders in June this year, the DAP was the victim of a barrage of medium attacks that the DAP was undemocratic, and Mahathir even weighed in to make caustic remarks as to how undemocratic is the DAP.
But Malaysians can now see who is really undemocratic. Before the DAP Central Executive Committee took disciplinary action against three DAP leaders, the whole process of inquiry and the right to be heard was complied with.
This is however not the case in UMNO in the removal of Anwar as Deputy UMNO President.
When UMNO Supreme Council met on Sept. 3, it sacked Anwar as an UMNO member and in the process removed Anwar as Deputy President. I would have thought that the UMNO Supreme Council would have first reconstituted the UMNO Disciplinary Committee, which was headed by Anwar, to first decide on whether Anwar had committed gross breach of discipline to warrant the ultimate punishment of expulsion, and giving Anwar the right to appeal to the UMNO Supreme Council in the event of such an eventuality.
If the DAP CEC had acted like the UMNO Supreme Council, sacking a DAP leader without referring it first to the Disciplinary Committee, the DAP would have been pilloried as undemocratic. But I do not see any mass media, whether electronic or printed, accusing the UMNO Supreme Council of being undemocratic. This is why I say DAP is more democratic than UMNO.