(Kajang, Thursday): I thank former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his wife, Datin Seri Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail for supporting and signing the nation-wide mass signature petition to the Yang di Pertuan Agong to pardon DAP Deputy Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng so that he would not be disqualified as Member of Parliament and could continue his good work for people and country.
I would in fact call on all political and civic leaders, regardless
of whether in government or opposition, or neither, to support the petition
to the Yang di Pertuan Agong to pardon Lim Guan Eng, who have been convicted
and jailed for two concurrent terms of 18-month jail under the Sedition
Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act for three reasons:
I think it is most unfair for the New Straits Times report under the heading "Former DPM sings new tune for Guan Eng, signs petition" accusing Anwar of opportunism in saying one thing while in Government while doing the opposite after he had been sacked as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister.
In fact, I also want to thank Anwar when as Deputy Prime Minister and speaking to Malaysian students in London at the end of May expressed his concern and sympathies at the injustice of the Lim Guan Eng case.
This is the Bernama report of Anwar’s comments in London:
"’Certainly this is an area that I think we need to study and undertake reforms,’ he told Malaysian students at a gathering at Malaysia Hall, here, late Thursday night.
"He said this when asked about the decision by the Attorney-General to prosecute DAP Member of Parliament Lim Guan Eng and the three-year sentence imposed on him by the court for his remarks on the alleged sex scandal involving former Melaka Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Tamby Chik.
"Anwar was replying to a question from a law student who asked what answer should he have given to friends who asked about the ‘patent injustice’ of a system which punished a person who exposed alleged wrongdoings but took no action against the person accused.
"’It is a very difficult question. I don't want to be seen to be condoning excesses in the system. It is the decision of the courts. It's beyond us and beyond the government,’ he said.
"’I can't question the wisdom of the courts but I honestly sympathise and understand and appreciate your predicament because it reflects my own personal predicament and I have great difficulty in responding to questions such as this,’ Anwar said.
"He said he was questioned on this in the United States last month and again in Canada earlier this week and here. ‘I am sorry I do not have the answers,’he added.
"During his visit here earlier in the week, Lim Guan Eng, the opposition party's deputy secretary-general and Youth leader, gave an interview on the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Choices’ which described the Malaysian law as ‘draconian’.
"Anwar, who was here on a stopover visit after attending an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum meeting in Canada also asked young Malaysians to act as the "conscience of the majority" in reforming the Malaysian social and economic system.
"This he said was necessary to bring about greater transparency and weed out corruption."
In this regard, Anwar speech yesterday expressing concern and sympathy for Guan Eng and his signing the petition to the Yang di Pertuan Agong to pardon Guan Eng is fully consistent with his public statement to Malaysian students in London on May 30.
Berita Harian and The New Straits Times reported that Anwar had done an "about-turn to his previous stand on the issue", referring to his statement at a "meet-the-people" session in Teluk Intan on May 14 last year, when Anwar was reported to have said that what happened to Guan Eng was due to his own doing. Anwar also said that the DAP should not criticise the court’s decision but accept the fact that he had committed wrong.
The meet-the-people session in Teluk Intan in May last year was clearly part of the Barisan’s campaign in the Teluk Intan parliamentary by-election, where the Gerakan candidate was trounced in what I have described as a Richter-6 political earthquake with the DAP candidate, M. Kulasegaran becoming the MP in the area although the Barisan Nasional had never expected to lose the by-election altogether.
May be, Anwar has learnt to listen to the voice of the people as expressed by the voters of Teluk Intan parliamentary by-election on May 17, 1997 and accepted the verdict of the overwhelming majority of electorate that Guan Eng’s case is a case of injustice in Malaysia.
It is a double injustice that Guan Eng should lose his personal liberty, his Parliamentary status, his professional qualification as a certified accountant and even his life-long health for having to sleep on the cold hard cement floor without any mattress causing him acute daily back pains and to lose six pounds in 18 days for championg the rights of a Malaysian of a different ethnic and religious group - when in fact he should be rewarded and held up as a role model of what a true Malaysian should be!
The injustice of the Lim Guan Eng case has in fact raised the fundamental question as to what type of a society and civilisation we are trying to build in the country. Is this the Vision 2020 that all Malaysians have been asked to dedicate themselves for the next two decades?
There is clearly something wrong with our values and our society if
a responsible MP who goes to the defence of the honour, human rights and
women rights of an underaged girl should be jailed for 36 months, with
the girl even detained for a period while the accused is able to get off
The Lim Guan Eng case has brought to the fore the fundamental issues of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance in Malaysia.
I hope all political and civic leaders, regardless of whether in government or opposition, or neither, can come forward to support the petition to the Yang di Pertuan Agong to pardon Lim Guan Eng, as this is strictly a case about justice.
So far one Barisan Nasional State Executive Councillor has come forward to sign the petition to the Yang di Pertuan Agong to pardon Guan Eng, and I commend his sense of justice, and I hope that his example can be followed by other Barisan Nasional leaders, both at the national and state levels.