17 March, 2009

'Singh is King' - Karpal charged with sedition !

On Monday, Karpal’s son, Gobind Singh Deo, was suspended from Parliament for one year without pay because, on the floor of the Legislature, he called the deputy prime minister, Najib Razak, a murderer in connection with the killing of a Mongolian woman three years ago. Mr. Najib is due to become prime minister next month.





Today, Karpal DAP chairman was charged with sedition for saying Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin's removal as Perak menteri besar by Sultan Azlan Shah could be questioned in a court of law.

The veteran lawyer-politician was charged at the Sessions Court here before Judge Mohamad Sekeri Mamat under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1946.

Karpal is further accused of several other seditious statements related to the entire Perak constitutional crisis which began a month ago.

He is accused of committing the crime during a press conference at his law firm here on February 6.

A partial transcript of the press conference, which formed the basis for the charge, was read out in open court.

Among the underlined statements, which are allegedly seditious are:

"With that ruling of the federal court which has stood the test of time for 32 years beyond a pale of a doubt, the Sultan of Perak has contravened Article 16(6) of the Constitutions of the State of Perak," referring to a 1977 Federal Court decision that the King had acted beyond his authority in confirming three detention orders under the Emergency Ordinance.

"Clearly the Sultan of Perak cannot invoke his powers under Article 16(1) which states [His Royal Highness shall appoint an Executive Council] to appoint a Barisan Nasional Executive Council with a new Menteri Besar and a new government. The Government of a Menteri Besar Dato' Haji Nizar bin Jamaluddin still had constitutional supremacy and legitimacy. The actions of the Sultan of Perak are clearly, premature."

If found guilty, he can be punished under the same Act with a maximum fine of RM5,000 and a jail term of up to three years for the first offence, and five years for subsequent offences.

“Obviously it is politically motivated, there can be no doubt about that,” said Karpal, 68, a member of Parliament and the high-profile chairman of the Democratic Action Party. He spoke to reporters before entering court, where he was later freed on bail.

Karpal said the government was improperly using the Sedition Act “as a political weapon against its political opponents.” He and his party have long opposed the broad wording of the law and its allegedly selective enforcement to political ends.

The Bar Council has expressed shock at the sedition charge against Karpal, urging the government to withdraw the charge and also eventually repeal the Sedition Act which it called "a draconian and archaic piece of legislation that undermines democratic institutions and is an absolute affront to democracy".

"The prosecution of YB Karpal Singh will be widely perceived as being selective and an attempt to pacify the partisan calls from certain influential sections within Umno who were pushing for his prosecution," newly-elected Bar Council chief Ragunath Kesavan said in a statement.

Ragunath said Karpal had only voiced his opinion "that the decision of a Ruler of a state in this area of constitutional law and practice is justiciable" and had not voiced disrespect or challenged the institution of monarchy in any way.

"Many issues of public conern have arisen in the wake of the unprecendented events unfolding in Perak... Any attempts to stifle public opinion by resorting to the Act is a sure sign of regression that is antithetical to democratic principles," he added.

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