Karpal Singh has been convicted under s.4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948 for saying that “the Sultan of Perak can be sued” for causing the removal of the PAS Menteri Besar Nizar Jamaludin which led to the BN seizing control of the state assembly through the back door by bringing in an unelected person to be Speaker and thus giving majority to BN in the Perak State Assembly to install Zambry Kadir as Menteri Besar.
Sedition is an antiquated and undemocratic offence and most modern states have repealed or put it into disuse. It certainly has no place in a modern and democratic Malaysia that we aspire to be.
The story of the sneaking in of a new Speaker into the Perak state parliament; the story of how Regent Raja Nazrin waited from morning in the royal chambers to deliver his opening speech, only to get to do it in the late evening as if nothing had happened at all are all well documented.
Sivakumar was half pushed, half pulled out of the chambers. He was forcibly removed from the speaker’s chair .
The Constitutional Crisis of Perak was unprecedented not only in Malaysian history but also in the history of any country in the world. Even the assasination of Julius Caesar could be justified because Julius Caesar wanted to be Emperor of Rome and Brutus and gang wanted to prevent him from getting that approval from the Roman Senate. Brutus justified the murder by saying “It is not that I love Caesar less but I love Rome more.” So, Julius was disposed in the Senate just before he became Caesar to protect democracy against dictatorship. In Perak, democracy was assassinated right in the very house of a state parliament.
The Ruler asked Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin to resign together with the executive council members. Sultan Azlan Shah also ominously declared – if they refuse to resign the post (of Menteri Besar and State Executive Councilors) would be considered vacant.
And by whom?
By none other than the constitutional head of the state. This was democracy in modern times being crucified by the very person who is to be the umbrella and protector of democracy and the people’s rights to its elected government. And democracy died.
It is totally unjust and un-democratic for MPs to switch parties and claim that they still represent what the people voted them in for.
Given that dramatic event, is it beyond the reasonable man’s mind that the people would speak out? Is it beyond expectation that the Rakyat would rise and object? Even if those reposed with trust to advise the rulers on such matters abdicate their duty because of fear as in this proverb “Tohok Raja Tiada Dapat Dielakkan”, the history of mankind has shown that there will always be A Few Good Men who would speak out for the truth. Karpal Singh would not be called the Tiger of Jelutong if he did not roared out his views over something so manifestly wrong. At least Karpal did not throw stones at the royalty of Perak as some people did to express their disgust over what was seen as the palace complicity in the assassination of democracy.
I recall video footages and pictures of the people of Perak throwing stones at the Regent’s car. That was how disgusted the Rakyat felt towards the Perak royalty. As a Malay, I felt very sad to see the consequences when the royalty and monarchy are dragged to descend into the arena of gutter politics. That would be unthinkable in Thailand where the monarch remains impartial to party politics. And that impartiality ensures not only the monarchy’s survival in a modern democracy like Queen Elizabeth of England but also remain revered by the people like King Bhumipol Adulyadej of Thailand. The monarchy must learn to read the Rakyat’s pulse and be a unifying force like how Winston Churchill encouraged King George VI in that famous movie The King’s Speech.
A vehicle with a yellow (royal) registration plate, said to be ferrying Perak crown prince Raja Nazrin Shah, was pelted with stones by angry supporters of the PRU12, which has shown PR won the State of Perak.
Yet, in Perak the Rakyat’s expressed its utter disgust. Why?
HRH Sultan of Perak is Raja Azlan Shah who before becoming Sultan was the Lord President of Malaysia, the chief judge of the country. There were much hopes when Raja Azlan Shah became Sultan.
HRH Sultan of Perak is Raja Azlan Shah who before becoming Sultan was the Lord President of Malaysia, the chief judge of the country. There were much hopes when Raja Azlan Shah became Sultan. There were hopes that His Majesty would put some semblance of Rule of Law in the governance of his own state of Perak and in the country when Raja Azlan Shah became Yang DiPertuan Agung of Malaysia. The Perak Royalty was regarded as one of the more educated royalties of this country. So, when Raja Nazrin became regent and espoused all the ideals of good governance, the people became hopeful. The people agreed with everything Raja Nazrin said. He became a symbol of an enlightened royalty of Malaysia like the big white hope of boxing. But all hopes dissipated. That disappointment culminated in the manner that MB Nizar was deposed. And the Perak Royalty lost all credibility. I am saying this because people tell me so and it is my duty to convey this so that our royalty can reflect on their relevance and survival in a new world.
The prosecution and conviction of Karpal Singh who is a parliamentarian and a senior lawyer does nothing to instil respect, love and reverence for our royalty and monarchy. It will do the exact opposite as can be seen in the extinction of other monarchies in the world. If that happens, the Malays will have to blame UMNO, our Malay politicians and our Malay holders of public offices including the judiciary for being less than wise in managing such issues.
ICJ’s International Legal Advisor on Southeast Asia Emerlynne Gil said this conviction sends out a message that lawyers in Malaysia are not free to express their opinions about legal issues.
We, Malays, make such a big point about protecting kedaulatan Raja-Raja Melayu and, in doing so, we instigate for the prosecution of anyone especially non-Malays like Karpal to teach them a lesson not to memperlekehkan our Raja-Raja. As a result, we bring to the world’s attention the oppressiveness of our archaic laws and the abuses that can arise from such laws. In the end, we will be the losers because we never heed our own peribahasa – “Kasihkan Raja Di Atas Usungan”. I will not explain its meaning so you the readers and hopefully all Malay politicians will research, read and apply that peribahasa in the proper context when dealing with our Malay royalty.
Same case, same judge, different judgments — only in the land of endless possibilities! mj
In prosecuting and convicting Karpal Singh, neither the Malay executive nor judiciary gave cogisance to another Malay legal maxim or peribahasa which is so significant in this context. If Karpal Singh can be convicted for sedition just for questioning the powers of a malay monarch, then this maxim must be expunged from the Malay perbendaharaan of peribahasa – “ Raja Adil Raja Disembah Raja Zalim Raja Disanggah“.