The prosecution of Karpal Singh under the Sedition Act punishable with three years’ jail for comments he made in court while acting as the lead defence counsel in the sodomy trial of former Deputy Prime Minister and current prisoner of conscience, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is a scandal and outrage for the Malaysian system of justice, marking a grave setback from its painful emergence from the judicial Dark Age when it was the scorn of national and international legal and judicial community as well as world opinion.
The prosecution of a lawyer for comments in court will cause irreparable injury to justice as it is unprecedented in the Commonwealth and in Common Law where it is "an established and entrenched principle and rule of law" that lawyers enjoy absolute privilege for all statements during legal proceedings.
It also runs counter to international law, which guarantees lawyers'
immunity in Article 20 of the United Nations Basic Principles
on the Role of Lawyers which states:
"Lawyers shall enjoy civil and penal immunity for relevant statements made in good faith in written or oral pleadings or in their professional appearances before a court, tribunal or other legal or administrative authority".
In addition, Article 16(a) of the same Principles states that "Governments shall ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference".
There are two other reasons which would make the prosecution of Karpal
for sedition even more outrageous, namely:
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim, who should be better placed than anyone in government to realise that the administration of justice should not be infected by the virus of vindictiveness and vengeance, should take immediate action to withdraw the sedition charge against Karpal.
I am directing this call to Rais as the Attorney-General Ainum Mohd Saaid is on a mysterious two-month leave, and nobody knows who is the Acting Attorney-General during her absence.
As Rais Yatim is acting as the most powerful and authoritative legal voice currently in government, he should step forward to save the government and the country from another international embarrassment ias Malaysia will again be in the “dock” of world opinion when the sedition trial of Karpal begins tomorrow.
Malaysia has in recent times been inundated with enough “headaches” detrimental to the country’s international reputation and which will drive away investors and tourists from our shores, whether KMM, Malaysia as a transit point for Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda operatives, the declaration of Malaysia as an Islamic state by the Prime Minister, PAS’ announcement of jihad over US airstrikes in Afghanistan and the latest round-the-clock news report over CNN of the lethal anthrax bacteria by mail from Malaysia - without the addition of the “political anthrax” of Karpal’s sedition trial.