'Gov't no moral standing for Karpal sedition charge'
9:23AM Feb 23, 2014
The government should have the moral high ground first before charging DAP chairperson Karpal Singh for sedition.
Citing the federal constitution's provisions for equality before the law, constitutional expert Abdul Aziz Bari pointed out that former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed had made even more provocative and ‘seditious’ statements during the constitutional crises of 1983 and 1993.
“(Therefore) the Umno-BN government should have the moral ground before they gave the green light to the Attorney-General’s Chambers to proceed with the charges against Karpal.
“It is difficult to say that the (sedition charge against) Karpal was purely legal and nothing political.
"Karpal has every right to be treated equally just like Mahathir and his Umno colleagues,” Aziz Bari told Malaysiakini yesterday, citing Article 8 of the federal constitution.
Lawyer and Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal was convicted under the Sedition Act at the Kuala Lumpur High Court last Friday for commenting on the Perak sultan's authorising the removal of Pakatan Rakyat Perak Menteri Besar Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin.
He allegedly said this during a press conference at his law firm on Feb 6, 2009.
'Ruling goes against trend'
Aziz Bari said Karpal's conviction on Friday is a "disturbing" development, since sedition law is only used in a few countries around the world.
In particular he noted that the conviction goes against the spirit of constitutional amendments by the BN government that have relaxed the immunity of the Malay rulers.
He pointed to Article 63(5) of the federal constitution, which was added in 1993.
The provision states that no person shall be liable to legal action for making statements against the Malay rulers during parliamentary proceedings, unless the statement advocates for abolition of the monarchy.
“One wonders why the court chose the harsher approach (against Karpal) when the constitution itself has relaxed the provision…
“(The judges) ought to be aware of the developments; especially one which has essentially 'diluted' the immunity of the rulers.
"The court decision for Karpal went against all these positive developments,” he said.