Conviction and 12-month jail sentence for Irene Fernandez for “false news” harsh reminder that Malaysia is not on the threshold of a spring-time for democracy and human rights with the impending change of Prime Minister in two weeks’ time
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): The conviction and 12-month jail sentence which the Kuala Lumpur magistrate’s court today handed down on Tenaganita director Irene Fernandez for “false news” is a harsh reminder that Malaysia is not on the threshold of a spring-time for democracy and human rights with the impending change of Prime Minister in two weeks’ time.
If so, the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail would have acted on the DAP suggestion to withdraw the charge against Tenaganita director Irene Fernandez to end the eight-year international embarrassment and agony to Malaysia as it was a cause celebre which highlighted the country’s deficit in democracy and human rights.
There were three potent reasons why the Attorney-General should have withdrawn the charge against Irene Fernandez under the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) 1984 for “maliciously publishing false news” in connection with a memorandum in 1995 about maltreatment, torture and death in illegal immigrant centres, viz:
Hopes that Anwar Ibrahim would get a fairer and more just treatment during the transition period in the passing of the baton of the Prime Minister from Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi have also been dashed by the Irene Fernandez verdict.
The road ahead for the restoration of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance is still very long, hardy and bleak. Irene’s continued trial and tribulation should inspire greater resolve and commitment by Malaysians committed to democracy, justice and human rights to battle against the dark forces of injustice and oppression until final victory is achieved.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman