Abdullah is misleading Malaysians and the world  when he claims that the government is just upholding the law in the arrest and prosecution of Karpal, Marina, Ezam, Zulkifly and Cheah under Sedition and Official Secret Acts

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Monday): Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, is misleading Malaysians and the world when he claims that the government is just upholding the law in the arrest and prosecution of DAP Deputy Chairman and former five-term MP for Jelutong Karpal Singh, Parti Keadilan Nasional  Vice President Marina Yusoff, KeADILan Youth chief Mohamed  Ezam Mohd Noor, Harakah editor  Zulkifly Sulong and Harakah printer Cheah Lim Thye under the Sedition  and Official Secrets Acts.

Responding to the statement by the US State Department spokesman James Foley that the US shared widely-expressed concerns that the arrests were "a transparent and cynical attempt to intimidate the Government’s opponents and stifle legitimate political discourse", Abdullah said the United States had no right to comment on the recent arrests of opposition leaders and activists and said:

"Are we in any way expected not to enforce our laws merely because they (opposition) break them?

"Our laws are not the laws of the jungle and the people must be ready to accept the fact that action will be taken against anyone who breaks them."

He said the charging of three opposition leaders and Harakah editor and printer was not a show of power but an action reflecting the country’s respect for laws and the Constitution.

He said Malaysia had its own laws enacted by Parliament and the authorities were under a duty to uphold an act against anyone who broke them.

Abdullah’s statement is riddled with contradictions and fallacies in three major areas.

Firstly, is Abdullah right that James Foley’s statement is  an "interference in the domestic affairs" of Malaysia?  The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and other Barisan Nasional leaders had never been shy in making comments about other governments and countries and never regarded these statements as interference in the domestic affairs of other countries.

So why should Abdullah trot out such a weak retort instead of addressing the nub of Foley’s accusation about the arrests being  "a transparent and cynical attempt to intimidate the Government’s opponents and stifle legitimate political discourse"?

When Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment at Robben Island for treason by the apartheid government of South Africa, Malaysia was one of the countries which took part in the international campaign against the unjust conviction resulting in his regaining his freedom 27 years later to become the President of South Africa.

Was Malaysia interfering in the domestic affairs of South Africa when the Malaysian government took part in the international campaign against the unjust apartheid policies of the white South African rule?

Secondly, does the Deputy Prime Minister really believe that the  government would uphold the law against anyone who broke them?  If so, why are only Opposition leaders and activists arrested and prosecuted, when so many Barisan Nasional leaders had violated the laws of the land with impunity and immunity?

In  arresting and prosecuting  Ezam under the Official Secrets Act for disclosing classified Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) reports to reporters last November in connection with ACA investigations into International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz and the former Malacca Chief Minister Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Cik, can Abdullah explain why both Rafidah and Rahim had not been prosecuted for corruption when the two ACA reports recommended their arrest and prosecution?

Which are  more serious and heinous crimes - exposing the two ACA reports or acts of corruption of Rafidah and Rahim for which the ACA had recommended prosecutions?

In any event, had Karpal committed the offence of sedition for  what he said in court in his capacity as  defence counsel for  former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim?

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim has admitted that this is the first case of its kind not only in Malaysia but also in  the Commonwealth, because Karpal’s arrest  violates the   civil and penal immunity enjoyed by lawyers for relevant statements in their professional appearances before a court which is recognised by the  Common  Law and also enshrined in the 1990 United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers that "Governments shall ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference".

Thirdly, an even more pertinent question Abdullah must answer is whether the laws the five opposition leaders and activists are being charged are fair and just.

The Deputy Prime Minister cannot claim that just because the laws concerned had been passed by Parliament, they are are therefore just and not "law of the jungle".

Otherwise Nelson Mandela would have been justly charged and convicted for treason and Malaysia should never have taken part in the international campaign to free Nelson Mandela.  Similarly, Gandhi would have been justly charged by the British for sedition in 1922, where he was sentenced to six years’ jail and the six million Jews who died in the Nazi Holocaust  would have been legally eliminated because the crimes of genocide took place under the Nazi laws of the time!

The Malaysian Government has lost out in the bar of  national and international opinion on the legitimacy, justice and fairness of the arrests of Opposition leaders and activists and the Cabinet on Wednesday should issue a Cabinet paper to respond to three important questions uppermost in the minds of Malaysians and the international community:


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman