Abdullah’s statement that I would be prosecuted for sedition raises the disturbing question whether he is fit and suitable to be the Prime Minister of Malaysia  after Mahathir

Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang,  Saturday)I find the statement yesterday by the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that I would be prosecuted for the offence of sedition because the “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957”  campaign is politically-motivated most outrageous. 

In fact, it raises the disturbing question whether Abdullah is fit and suitable to be the Prime Minister of Malaysia after Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. 

Abdullah does not seem to know the rudimentary constitutional  law that neither he, whether as Deputy Prime Minister or Home Minister, nor the Police has the power to decide that I be prosecuted for the offence of sedition. 

He should have read the timely column by former Federal Court judge, professor of law in the International Islamic University and Suhakam Deputy Chairman, Tan Sri Harun Hashim who wrote on precisely this subject in his regular New Straits Times column Benchmark only two days ago (6.6.2002), where he states: 

“Under our criminal justice system it is the duty of the police and the ACA to investigate offences alleged to have been committed without fear or favour. Their duty is to collect all available evidence which has to be proven in a court of law in respect of every single charge…

”Once the investigation is completed, the police must submit the investigation papers to the Attorney-General. It is not for the police to decide whether there should be a prosecution. That is for the A-G alone to decide in his absolute discretion. As far as the police are concerned, all they can say is that they have completed investigations and that the papers have been submitted to the A-G.

”In a normal case, the A-G decides as a matter of law that there is sufficient evidence to sanction a prosecution. He will decline to prosecute if there is insufficient evidence. He could, however, decline to prosecute even if there is sufficient evidence by entering a nolle prosequi.

“Under the Constitution, the A-G is not answerable to anybody in deciding to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence, other than proceedings before a Syariah court, a native court or a court martial.”  

I want want to ask Abdullah whether he has usurped the constitutional powers  and absolute discretion of the Attorney-General, Datuk Abdul Gani Patail and is issuing an open directive, through his public statement, that I should be prosecuted under the Sedition Act because the “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” pamphlet is politically-motivated even before the police has submitted its investigation papers to the Attorney-General? 

When did “political motivation” become a crime and a sedition  offence in Malaysia?   Would Abdullah be the Deputy Prime Minister and heir apparent to the highest office in the land today if not for his “political motivations” and is this an arrestable and chargeable offence? 

I do not deny the political objectives of the “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” People’s Awareness Campaign, which  is to create awareness among all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or political beliefs, of  the far-reaching political, economic, legal, social and citizenship implications of the “929 Declaration” by Mahathir that Malaysia is an Islamic State, as this is the most critical issue to be decided in the next general election expected in less than 12 months. 

It is unthinkable that the overwhelming majority of Malaysians will make a conscious choice to abandon the 1957 Merdeka Constitution and “social contract” that Malaysia is a democratic, secular and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state, but  Malaysians may “sleep-walk” into endorsing Mahathir’s  “929 declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic State if they are not aware of its far-reaching implications. 

I am sure Abdullah will not dispute  the political motives of Mahathir in making the “929 declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic state, in particular to compete with PAS to win the electoral support of the Malay heartland or it would not have been made at the Gerakan national conference on September 29  last year. 

But does this make Mahathir’s “929 declaration” a sedition  offence because of its political motivation, as he is claiming with regard to the DAP’s “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” campaign? 

Nobody would blame Abdullah for not being well-versed in the law and the constitution, as this is not his field of expertise; but he must be held responsible for surrounding himself with bad advisers who could not give him the proper briefing, not only about the law and the constitution, but also the duties and responsibilities of a Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister. 

Even more shocking, Abdullah is being given bad political advice by his coterie of political consultants. 

For instance, he accused the DAP of supporting the PAS’ Islamic State and hudud laws and only opposing UMNO’s Islamic State. 

It is most shocking that Abdullah could be so ignorant of what all Malaysians know, that the DAP’s opposition to an Islamic State in plural Malaysia  is consistent whether ala- UMNO or ala- PAS  – and  this was why  DAP had pulled out of the Barisan Alternative.  It would appear that Abdullah and his advisers do not even read their own “mainstream media” like the New Straits Times which only yesterday  carried the following headline “Party doesn’t want an Islamic state as advocated by Pas” in its report on my comments on the “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” campaign. 

In criticizing the DAP for keeping “silent” on the Terengganu hudud enactment,  Abdullah does not seem to know what the Minister for Women and Family Development, Datuk Shahrizat Abdul Jalil knows very well - that the DAP is openly and unreservedly opposed to the Terengganu PAS Government’s proposed Syariah Criminal Enactment Bill, calling for its withdrawal and that I had myself said in Penang on Monday that the Terengganu hudud bill violates  human rights and  discriminates   against women in providing, among others,  that a woman who reports she has been raped will be charged with qazaf (slanderous accusation) and flogged 80 lashes if she is unable to prove  the rape while an unmarried woman who is pregnant is assumed to have committed zina , even if she has been raped.  

But equally or more disturbing that being surrounded by bad advisers giving him bad advice is his political judgement in stating that I should be prosecuted for sedition for opposing Mahathir’s “929 Declaration”. 

Abdullah should specifically state his stand on the following two issues: 

Firstly, whether he is claiming that Malaysian democracy, human rights and the rule of law have reached a stage of development where it is only permissible to support Mahathir’s “929 declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic State, while any criticism or opposition is not permissible and even constitutes “sedition” offence? 

If so, would the  Malaysian Consultative Council of  Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS) be guilty of sedition because of their statement of  31st January , signed by its President, Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Most Reverend Anthony Soter Fernandez, opposing the “929 declaration” for violating the 1957 Merdeka Constitution and “social contract”  and reaffirming that Malaysia is a secular state? 

Secondly, if the “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” campaign  to defend the 1957 Merdeka Constitution and “social contract” reached by our forefathers from the major communities before Independence and reaffirmed by the peoples of Sabah and Sarawak on the formation of Malaysia in 1963 is seditious, then isn’t  Mahathir’s “929 Declaration” which went against the 1957 Merdeka Constitution and “social contract” even more seditious. 

If the DAP lodges a police report against Mahathir for committing the offence of sedition in making the “929 Declaration”,  can Abdullah give the public assurance that there would be no double standards and that the police will act with same “lightning speed” as the Ipoh Police  in raiding the UMNO Headquarters and the Prime Minister’s Office?

It is no sedition to say “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957”, which is a patriotic, nationalistic, peaceful and democratic  campaign to defend the 1957 Merdeka Constitution and “social contract” and for this reason, there will be no let-up in  the campaign to defend the 1957 Merdeka Constitution and social contract.

Malaysia has not reached the stage where the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister has been vested with the powers of the Attorney-General to decide who or what to prosecute as well as the powers of the judiciary to decide who is guilty of the offence of sedition.

It is very disappointing that instead of restraining and disciplining the few “black sheep” in Ipoh police guilty of abuses of police powers, as in my wrongful arrest, the wrongful raid of Perak DAP premises, wrongful seizure of 18,000 campaign pamphlets, and violations of human rights, Abdullah should be making irresponsible and  baseless allegations against the DAP.

I commend the Suhakam Commissioner, Dr Abdul Monir Yaacob, who had received the official complaint of the Perak DAP yesterday in connection with the police abuses of power and calling for a public inquiry into the police violation of human rights from the DAP Perak Chairman, Ngeh Koo Ham, and who promised that the complaint would be considered at the full Suhakam Board meeting on Monday.

I hope the Suhakam would establish a public inquiry into the abuses of power and human rights violations by the Ipoh police, as the police education of their human rights responsibilities is essential if Suhakam is to be able to discharge its statutory duties to “protect and promote” human rights.

I have not reached the stage where I am publicly declaring that Abdullah is not fit and suitable to be the Prime Minister of Malaysia after Mahathir, but he would shatter all public confidence in him if he continues to say outrageous things about important issues affecting the people and nation – and I hope he would be more circumspect, serious and responsible in all his future utterances.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman