13 August, 2009

Karpal Singh says that sedition charges against him are “obviously” politically motivated.

In an interview with RFI, Malaysian opposition leader Karpal Singh says that sedition charges against him are “obviously” politically motivated. “There’s no doubt about that in my mind," the Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman said.

A sedition case against Singh, a lawyer, started on Wednesday over remarks made at a 6 February press conference. There he declared the decision made by the titular head of northern Perak state, Sultan Azlan Shah, to dissolve the state’s government could be questioned in court.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s my legal opinion,” Singh, told RFI. "Right or wrong, that doesn’t make it sedition. Every lawyer has an opinion. Most of the time he’s wrong anyway, that doesn’t mean he’s going to jail."

According to Malaysian law, any act that provokes hatred, contempt or disaffection against a state ruler is considered sedition, a crime punishable by up to three years in prison.

“Frankly, I was surprised they slapped the charge on me. Obviously it is politically motivated. There’s no doubt about that in my mind,” Singh says.

In 2008 state elections, the opposition won five states and 82 MPs.

“It was a landslide actually for the opposition,” Singh says. In Perak, which had a newly-elected DAP opposition government, the Sultan decided to step in.

“He interviewed 32 members of the assembly and he came to the conclusion that the other side had the numbers necessary to form a government,” Singh says. “I said, ‘Look here. Whatever is being done by the Sultan is against the constitutional provision…. and therefore he could be taken to court.’”

But Singh remains defiant.

“It’s a trial. I’ll take them on,” he says. “I said it in my capacity as a Member of Parliament. …. An opinion was requested by the state government of Perak as to what ought to be done, and that was my advice.”

This month Malaysia has seen a storm of controversy over the handling of a demonstration against its Internal Security Act.




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