(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The statement
by the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir that DAP Deputy
Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng had informed him
that he was not facing any problem, was adapting well to prison life and
was given good treatment by the prison authorities has understandably
caused nation-wide outrage.
I would advise Abdul Kadir not to belittle the sufferings and sacrifices of Guan Eng in Kajang Prison by making the false claim that the MP for Kota Melaka is enjoying his two concurrent 18-month jail sentences and to always remember that he is a victim of injustice for which the government should be ashamed of.
Guan Eng is not in jail because he had committed any heinous crime of armed robbery, arson, rape, murder or criminal breach of trust, but for diligently and courageously discharging his duties as a Member of Parliament to defend the honour, dignity, womenís rights and human rights of an underaged 15-year-old girl who was victim of statutory rape, where the accused was the most mighty and powerful political leader in the state.
What is also very outrageous is Abdul Kadirís wild charge that my statements "only served to thwart the Government's efforts to bring investors back. The statements also scare away tourists". (New Straits Times 5th Feb. 1999).
I find Abdul Kadirís insinuation that I am prepared to exploit Guan Engís sufferings just to seek "political mileage" and "thwart the Governmentís efforts to bring investors back" and "scare away tourists" not only most offensive, but a contemptible disparagement of the sufferings of a father at the great ordeal his son is undergoing for the cause of truth and justice.
It is Abdul Kadir who is trying to play politics and demean his new office as Deputy Home Minister, especially as he should know that every word I had said about Guan Engís condition in Kajang Prison is true.
This episode reminds me of what happened in the Kamunting Detention Centre in 1988, when Operation Lalang detainees arrested under the Internal Security Act conducted a hunger strike protest on the occasion of the first anniversary of their detention, and Karpal Singh and Guan Eng were falsely accused of "curi makan" by the government propagandists.
I am prepared to appear before a commission of inquiry set up to investigate into the truth or otherwise of all my statements about Guan Eng in Kajang Prison.
How can the people have confidence in the independence, integrity and professionalism of the government services if the Director-General of Prisons, Datuk Omar Mohamad Dan could deny in September last year that Guan Eng had lost any weight in his first 22 days in Kajang Prison, when he actually lost eight pounds and the Deputy Home Minister could claim that Guan Eng had lost 3.5 kg after five months in Kajang Prison when in actual fact, he had lost 10 kg?
Abdul Kadir should also realise that he is forfeiting public respect when he tried to explain away Guan Engís ailments, as for instance, asserting that Guan Engís backache was an ailment common among people when they reach a certain age and not because he had to sleep on the cold hard cement floor without any mattress for the first two months of incarceration.
What Abdul Kadir should have done is to immediately arrange for Guan Eng to be hospitalised either at the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital or Universiti Hospital to receive specialist treatment and care.
When I visited Guan Eng in Kajang Prison two days ago, he told me that
apart from his backache, he had been suffering from very bad headaches
in the past few days as well as inflammation of the nose.
I call on the Home Ministry to allow Guan Eng to receive private specialist treatment and care as the prison authorities are not prepared to give the MP for Kota Melaka the best specialist care and treatment for the multiple ailments which he is suffering after being jailed in Kajang Prison.
Private specialists who are prepared to go to Kajang Prison to diagnose Guan Engís condition can contact me. Maybe we can form a "Doctors For Guan Eng" support group.
I have received many calls from people who are so outraged by Abdul Kadirís statement and the mass media coverage, as for instance, the headline by New Straits Times yesterday: "Allegations that Guan Eng is ill-treated in prison 'a lie'" that they feel strongly that I should file defamation proceedings against Abdul Kadir and the press concerned.
I will discuss with my lawyers the question of defamation suits against Abdul Kadir and the mass media although my priority is to secure improvement of prison conditions for Guan Eng as well as all prisoners, in keeping with the international minimum standards for prisons which have been extensively violated by the prison system in Malaysia.