Far Eastern Economic Review correspondent, Murray Hiebert, 50, a Canadian, was today sent to Sungai Buloh prison to start his six-week jail sentence for contempt of court when his appeal against conviction to the Court of Appeal was dismissed although his sentence was reduced from three months to six weeks.
Hiebert is the first journalist to be sentenced to jail in Malaysia for committing contempt of court in the course of his duties.
The jailing of Hiebert is the latest example of the gaping divide between law and justice in Malaysia.
It will stifle an already very muzzled press in Malaysia and negate the fundamental liberty of freedom of speech in Article 10 of the Malaysian Constitution.
The highest purpose of law must be to uphold and honour justice, but in Malaysia, law and the courts of law have become increasingly irrelevant to the most fundamental concepts of justice.
Hiebertís jailing may accord with the law of the land, but definitely not in accord with the notions of justice of Malaysians!
More and more, the rule by law has trampled over the rule of law, not only in the Hiebert case, but in the manner of persecution of former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim; the refusal by the Malaysian government to honour its international commitments to implement the binding terms of the World Courtís decision that the U.N.special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Param Cumaraswamy, is entitled to immunity from legal proceedings and the failure of the Federal Court to date to release the grounds of judgement for the conviction and the two concurrent 18-month jail sentences of Lim Guan Eng although this jail sentence has already been served.
Both of us have been invited by the Malaysian Bar Council to the official opening of the 12th Commonwealth Law Conference by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on Monday and the closing of the conference by the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi on Thursday and we have both accepted the invitations.
However, in protest at the outrage of the jailing of the first journalist and the growing divide between law and justice in Malaysia, where courts of law are less and less equated as courts of justice, both of us have decided to boycott the Commonwealth Law Conference, as its theme "Law and Society in the 21 Century" has been made a total mockery by the divorce between law and justice in Malaysia.