Call on Government to withdraw all charges against Anwar Ibrahim and release him on  bail pending outcome of his appeal  against  first convictions

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Monday): Tomorrow, the sodomy trial of former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is set to resume with  one of his leading defence counsel, Karpal Singh under threat of a jail term as he had been charged with sedition over remarks he made in the trial last September.

In charging Karpal for what he had said in court as defence counsel for his client, the government has  violated United Nations' principles on lawyers, which confer immunity for statements made in court in good faith.

I call on the Government to withdraw all charges against Anwar Ibrahim and to release him on bail pending outcome of his appeal against his first convictions and six-year jail sentences.

Anwarís trial plunged public confidence in the integrity and independence of the judicary to a new nadir in Malaysian history, and his continued persecution is not going to help the nation to embark on the course of national reconciliation after the great wounds caused to the national psche and unity as a result of the dirtiest general election in the nationís history.

The claim  by the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday that  the rule of law applied to all people and action would be taken  against anyone who broke the law can only evoke the most cynical of reactions, unless and until he could explain why Barisan Nasional leaders, including a Cabinet Minister and a former state chief Minister, enjoy immunity from prosecution despite recommendations  from the Anti-Corruption Agency and the Prosecution Division of the Attorney-Generalís Chambers.

Abdullah had also said that   the recent arrests and charging of opposition leaders were not aimed at  displaying his strength as the country's number two leader and that it  was neither to show that he had changed his attitude and had turned into  "Mr Tough Guy" from "Mr Nice Guy" as claimed by a foreign magazine.

Abdullah said the arrests of the opposition politicians were made after the  Nov. 29 general election because the authorities were looking for evidence to  support the charges against them.

Abdullahís explanation is very disturbing for it confirms that the Barisan Nasional government is practising the politics of vendetta when it should be initiating a politics of reconciliation.

His explanation gives the impression that before the general election the government had already  decided to arrest 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 but the authorities wanted to time the arrest after the general election - presumably not to adversely affect the electoral performance of the Barisan Nasional.

Abdullahís explanation raises the important question - what were the evidence against Karpal, Marina, Ezam, Zulkifly and Cheah which the authorities did not have before the Nov. 29 general election but which they subsequently secured?

There cannot be a single one of such evidence, for all the evidence against the five were already present  well before the Nov. 29, 1999 general election.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman