Mahathir should apologise to Karpal for unconstitutional Ops Lalang  detention and Federal Court should hear Anwar’s appeal  against his corruption conviction without any delay

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): DAP Deputy National Chairman Karpal Singh has won his suit against the Home Minister and the Government   to declare his detention order under the Internal Security Act (ISA) 14 years ago under Operation Lalang unconstitutional and the restrictions and conditions imposed on him from Jan. 26, 1989 to April 19, 1989 following his conditional release from Kamunting Detention Centre invalid.

The judgement was delivered by High Court judge Datuk Abdul Hamid Said in Kuala Lumpur yesterday

It is however a pyrrhic victory as far as Karpal’s personal liberty is concerned, as it could not restore the months of personl  freedom  which Karpal lost because of the unconstitutional and illegal incarceration under the ISA.

As the Home Minister responsible for Karpal’s unconstitutional ISA detention under Operation Lalang is  none other than the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, a public apology from him to Karpal would be in order and most appropriate.

The legal vindication of Karpal’s fundamental constitutional “liberty of the person” under Article 5 of the Federal Constitution 14 years after the event should be more than a “jolt” to the judiciary to be ever mindful of the need to deal expeditiously and urgently  cases where time is of the essence because of the deprivation  of the liberty of the person.  Every day spent in detention or prison is a day forever lost, which could not be adequately compensated in monetary terms.

Following Karpal’s case, the Federal Court should be reminded of the  maxijm “justice delayed is justice denied” and not to allow any  further delay in deciding former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s appeal against his conviction  for four counts of corrupt practices which landed him with  a six-year jail term.

Anwar  was found guilty by the High Court more than 31 months ago on April 14, 1999 of abusing his power in asking the police to  get a retraction from two persons, Azizan Abu Bakar and Ummi Hafilda Ali, who had accused him of  sexual misconduct.

Justice Augustine Paul sentenced Anwar to six years jail for committing the offences at the latter’s  residence between Aug 12 and 27, 1997.

Anwar’s appeal to overturn this verdict was unanimously dismissed by the Court of Appeal on April 29  last year by a three-member panel.

The Federal Court had postponed its hearing fixed for November 12 for Anwar’s appeal but it was postponed because of the ill-health of a member of the Federal Court.

Anwar’s appeal was originally to have been heard on Nov 27 last year but had to be postponed due to  his chronic backache which resulted in him being hospitalised.

The panel at that hearing then consisted of the Malaya chief judge Datuk Wan Adnan Wan Ismail (now Court  of Appeal president), Sabah and Sarawak chief judge Tan Sri Steve Shim and Federal Court judge  Tan Sri Mohamed  Dzaiddin Abdullah (now Chief Justice).

Anwar had applied for the empanelling  of a   five-man bench for his  Federal Court appeal.

In his petition of appeal filed on June 5 last year, Anwar claimed, among others, that the Court of  Appeal had failed to exercise its discretion judiciously and that it has misdirected itself in law in holding that the prosecution of Anwar was not an abuse of process.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman