(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): The DAP "Justice for All Campaign" is the latest nation-wide campaign arising from the injustice suffered by DAP Deputy Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng to enlist Malaysians to join the national movement for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance in the new millennium.
Guan Eng has been jailed for four-and-a-half months in Kajang Prison in his two concurrent 18-month jail sentences for offences under the Sedition Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act and his is the most blatant example of the divorce between justice and law in Malaysia.
I have no doubt that if a national opinion poll is held among Malaysians regardless of race, religion, sex or age as to whether Guan Eng should be jailed for what he had done to defend the honour, dignity, human rights and women rights of an underaged 15-year-old girl victim of statutory rape by the powerful and the mighty, the overwhelming verdict would be one of "No"!
When there is such a huge chasm between the perceptions of the overwhelming majority of Malaysians about justice and what is meted out by the legal system in the country, a grave crisis of confidence in the institutions of law and justice in Malaysia is engendered.
It is a sad day for good governance in Malaysia when Guan Engís case becomes the classic example to convince Malaysians that the laws in Malaysia do not administer justice, as what prevails in Malaysia is not the rule of law but the rule by law resulting in law in Malaysia becoming the very antithesis of justice.
If an elected Member of Parliament can be a victim of injustice of the laws of the land, not for committing any heinous crime of arson, armed robbery, rape, murder or criminal breach of trust but for diligently and courageously discharging his parliamentary duties to champion the cause of the weak, downtrodden and the oppressed, how can the majority of the ordinary Malaysians find safety, security and most important of all, justice, in the laws of the country.
This is why former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahimís "black eye" and other injuries as a result of police assault while under police custody has become such a cause celebre in Malaysia and the world - for if a person who was until recently the occupant of the second highest government post in the country could be manhandled and assaulted by the police in the very inner sanctum of the police high command, and for four months, the authorities concerned could not find out the police person or persons responsible, how can ordinary Malaysians feel safe at all when they fall into the hands of the police if they ran afoul of the law or otherwise?
The "Justice For All" campaign, launched today and to be carried out throughout the country for the next one year, is to conscientise Malaysians about the urgent need to restore justice in our society. It is not confined to the issue of justice for one person, Lim Guan Eng, but about justice for all 21 million Malaysians. It is not confined to justice from the legal system, but is about justice in its widest sense from the entire system of governance in Malaysia, whether political, economic, social, cultural or legal.
The "Justice For All" Campaign has as one of its primary objectives the enlistment of Malaysians to join the national movement for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance for all Malaysians in the new millennium to make Malaysia a civil society and I would urge all Malaysians to come forward to join, promote and make a success of the "Justice For All" campaign.
Although Guan Eng is in Kajang Prison, his spirits are with us as he fully supports the "Justice For All" campaign to ensure that justice is real and alive for all Malaysians.
This is why he has spoken of his Dream From Kajang Prison of a free, just and democratic Malaysia founded on ten essential freedoms, including the right to full particiation in the democratic process, justice in the administration of laws, the end to corruption, protection and promotion of human rights, social equity, religious freedom, freedom of opportunity, strengthening of family values and social order, access to new information technology and right to quality environment.
On his 38th birthday which he spent in Kajang Prison on 8th December last year, he sent a message outlining his Dream of Ten Essential Freedoms For a Better Malaysia. He said:
"Democracy is a government of the people, by the people and for the people and not government over the people.
"The firm basis of government is justice, truth and reason, not tyranny. We seek to restore these values, not destroy our institutions. Let us begin to firmly restore these values into our institutions - Parliament, Judiciary, Executive and the press - by peaceful and democratic means.
"This is the cause we should undertake for Malaysia."
This quotation can serve as the mission statement of the "Justice For All" campaign we are launching today.
I wish to end by thanking on Guan Engís behalf as well on my own, party leaders, members, supporters and well-wishers who have stood by Guan Eng since he was first charged in court in March 1995.
Guan Eng and Anwar Ibrahim have both lost 22 pounds since their incarceration, although Anwar was incarcerated about a month later.
Guan Eng has developed severe back pains in the Kajang Prison, which has caused him to wake up from his sleep every one or two hours. I call on the prison authorities to give Guan Eng the best specialist treatment for his back pain and I cannot understand why he has not yet been hospitalised so that he could get specialist care and treatment.
Guan Engís family should have access to all medical reports on Guan Eng while in prison and I will be contacting the relevant authorities to ask for such access.