Mahathir should announce a far-reaching four-point action plan to restore
national and international confidence in the rule of law and close the
gaping divide between law and justice in Malaysia
(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): In recent months,
developments in the field of law and justice in Malaysia have brought shame
and dishonour to the country, the latest being the jailing yesterday of
Canadian journalist Murray Hiebert for six weeks after he lost an
appeal against a contempt of court conviction.
by Lim Kit Siang
Lawyers said this was the first time in half a century that a
journalist had been jailed for contempt in any Commonwealth country.
If true, this is not an honour but a dishonour that Malaysia
is better off without, and this is one reason why former DAP MP for
Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng and I have decided to boycott the official opening
of the 12th Commonwealth Law Conference by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri
Dr. Mahathir Mohamad tomorrow.
I am surprised however that Malaysian journalists and writers have not
spoken up, loud and clear, against a grave threat against the fundamental
right of freedom of expression and freedom of the press as represented
by the jaililng of Murray Hiebert.
There may be Malaysian journalists who think the jailing of Murray Hiebert
is no concern of theirs as it involves a foreign journalist. How
tragic when Malaysian journalists find that the suppression of the freedom
of expression and the freedom of the press knows no nationality boundaries
and local journalists are as liable to be jailed for contempt of court
as foreign journalists.
Although Guan Eng and I have decided to boycott the opening and closing
of the Commonwealth Law Conference, it is my earnest hope that the over
1,000 prominent lawyers gathered in Kuala Lumpur for the four-day meeting
would focus on the great issues of law and justice - or to be more exact,
the gaping and growing divide between the two - both in the Commonwealth
and the host country, Malaysia and to make concrete proposals as to how
courts of law can transform from courts of injustice to become
courts of justice!
I also call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad
in his opening speech tomorrow to announce a far-reaching four-point action
plan to restore national and international confidence in the rule of law
and close the gaping divide between law and justice in Malaysia, namely:
ESTABLISHMENT of a Royal Commission of Inquiry to end the the worst
crisis of confidence in the judiciary in Malaysian history as well as to
close the gaping and growing divide between law and justice in Malaysia;
RESIGNATION of Chief Justice, Tun Eusuff Chin and Court of Appeal
judge Datuk Mohtar Sidin who have failed to respond and clear their name
and high judicial office of very serious allegations of judicial
improprieties and judicial injustices made against them in court
in the Asian Wall Street Journal defamation case two weeks ago and the
establishment of an independent judicial inquiry to investigate into the
ROYAL PARDON and immediate release of Murray Hiebert as a commitment
by the Malaysian Government to protect and promote the fundamental liberties
of freedom of expression and the freedom of the press, accompanied
by greater press democratisation and the enactment of a Freedom of Information
Act to give Malaysians the right to all government information, except
in cases of national security or personal privacy.
ANNOUNCE that the government would not object to the granting of
bail if there is an re-application for bail by former Deputy Prime Minister,
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who has been hospitalised following allegations
that he was poisoned with arsenic. Anwar has appealed against conviction
and the six-year jail sentence passed on him with regard to the first set
of corruption charges.
*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary
Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member
of Parliament for Tanjong