Karpal’s conviction: a mockery of justice and the heights of absurdity
By Jose Mario De Vega
I refer to “International jurists body slams High Court decision on Karpal, says his right to give legal opinion”, The Malaysian Insider, March 11 concerning the indisputably outrageous conviction of sedition of the Tiger of Jelutong.
Last Friday, Karpal stood before the Palace of Justice and stood Anwar Ibrahim’s lead counsel for his sodomy trial. The High Court reversed the judgment of acquittal of Anwar and he was convicted of the crime charged, that is despite the heroic and gallant stand of Karpal and his legal team to ask for a deferment of the sentencing. That day, justice as a virtue and its administration died and so as the hope of the Malaysian people for the courts to stand as bastion of liberty, equality and fairness.
Yesterday, it was the turn of the lead counsel of Anwar, no less than Karpal, who in my view is the greatest lawyer ever produced by Malaysian society to be convicted, by a so-called court of law.
The powers that be not content in bastardizing justice has killed it not once but twice in a span of four days. What a shame!
Karl Marx stated that history repeat itself, first as a tragedy second as a farce. His word of wisdom is so appropriate to the present Malaysian condition.
The trial of Anwar and Karpal is not only a tragedy in its self but undeniably a mockery of the highest order. Their subsequent (which in my view is scripted and choreographed from the beginning) is not only a farce but the height of absurdity and shame.
To quote a portion of the official statement of the former US Vice President Al Gore:
“The court, by accelerating its calendar, reached its verdict in a rush — early enough to prevent Anwar from running in the election. The calendar of events is itself a contextual indictment of the decision.
“By behaving in the manner it did, the court has, of course, invited speculation by reasonable friends of Malaysia in the rest of the world that its independence of judgment and judicial temperament have been influenced by political fear of, and intimidation by, the individuals now in control of executive power in Kuala Lumpur.
“The importance of the rule of law should be deemed important for the reputation of Malaysia as a nation within the community of nations.
“Moreover, the integrity of Malaysia’s parliament — a crucial asset for the future of Malaysia’s respect in the world community — would be diminished if this decision were to be accepted as “legitimate” by the elected representatives of the people of Malaysia.”
Bloody hell, the whole world knows the prevailing fiasco the Malaysian executive-judicial collusion is all about on their objective of wiping out the political opposition.
What a shame!
So now, following the trend of the nefarious powers that be, Tian Chua or Terasa Kok must be prepared to stand trial and be ready to be convicted by another so-called court of law. Their crimes? For being in the opposition and for being brave in speaking the truth on behalf of the people!
This assertion is in conformity with the lucid contention posited by an executive committee member of Aliran, P Ramakrishnan (“After Anwar and Karpal, who’s next?”, Free Malaysia Today, March 12):
“Anwar was put away on Friday; it was Karpal’s turn on Tuesday. Who else next?
“In the pending cases involving Pakatan leaders, this would be the outcome. One by one, the Pakatan leaders will be disabled and dispatched off through the predictably subservient judiciary.
“The majority of Malaysians roundly condemn this atrocious targeting of opposition leaders. They will show their anger and displeasure when they hold the ballot papers in their hands. There is no doubt about it.”
Upon Karpal’s conviction, as reported by the Malaysian Insider:
“The Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has come to the defence of prominent lawyer Karpal Singh, following the guilty verdict on him on a charge of sedition by the Hight Court, which today meted out a RM4,000 fine on him.”
The ICJ’s International Legal Adviser on Southeast Asia, Emerlynne Gil said that:
“The Malaysian government is brazenly utilising a draconian and outdated sedition law to restrict freedom of expression in the country by lawyers and public figures…
“Public discussion, including debates on the interpretation of laws, are an integral part of the nature of the legal process and a crucial step in the strengthening of a country’s democracy and rule of law.
“A lawyer’s right to freely and independently engage and express his views on the law fulfills an important aspect of his professional role…”
The whole fiasco stemmed from a legal statement of Karpal, I say legal because he gave a legal opinion in a press conference “on February 6, 2009, commenting on the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah’s decision to remove the then Perak menteri besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Nizar Jamaluddin from office. Karpal had said the decision could be challenged in a court of law.”
As already stated by ICJ, the duty of the lawyer is to give his or her opinion in any public debate and discussion that affects the whole nation. Discourse of this kind is natural, welcome and should be encourage in a truly democratic society. Debates, discussion and discourse on the interpretation of the laws are not only an integral part of the nature of the legal process, but also an indispensable element utterly necessary in developing and cultivating not only the people’s political consciousness and maturity but also to strengthen the various institutions of society and the country in its totality.
Unlimited public discussions, no matter how unpopular and radical they may be are important for the nation’s democracy and its conception of the rule of law.
It is part and parcel of the duty of the citizens in a truly democratic society to comment and to argue every issue and questions that deals with matters of the public interest.
It was promised by Putrajaya on July 21, 2012 in an announcement “that it planned to repeal the Sedition Act, although critics said it was dragging its feet on abolishing the colonial-era law.”
It seems to me that they only do so to fool and dupe the people in order to get more votes for the coming general election then.
The same is true with the ten point agenda. Putrajaya made the same promise base on the same lines, yet now, the whole country is embroiled with “Allah” issue.
The point here is that, this ‘administration whose public support is only 49 % of the population is a regime of lies, political machinations, fraud and rubbish maneuvering.
They love to issue promises, yet they are so consistent in not honoring them! This is the heights of shame!
By virtue of the fact that Karpal was fined RM4,000, he is in danger of losing his parliamentary seat. Though, as of the moment he remain as the Bukit Gelugor MP that is until he has exhausted his appeal up to the Federal Court, that is because “under the Federal Constitution, an elected representative is disqualified from office if fined more than RM2,000 or jailed for a term exceeding one year.”
Karpal’s lead counsel, Gobind Singh Deo, said that “the fine was paid and a notice of appeal would be filed soon.”
Gobind further stated that:
“He will remain an elected representative until the Federal Court makes a final decision on the appeal…”
Now, following Malaysia’s distinctive legal procedure “Karpal has two more rights to appeal against the conviction and sentence in the Court of Appeal and Federal Court.”
Again on the question of a judgment of an acquittal that is being reviewable
As I’ve stated on my latest article, “Anwar Ibrahim conviction: a travesty of justice”, The Malaysian Insider, March 10:
“Another thing that confused me since then, up to now is the stupid and idiotic principle of the Malaysian “legal” concept of reviewing the judgment of acquittal!
“In many jurisdictions, once a person is acquitted he or she is immediately discharged and he or she will no longer be prosecuted (again) on the same charge, because it will violate the legal doctrine of Double Jeopardy which is a universally sanctioned and recognised legal principle.
“Right or wrong, a judgment of acquittal is unappealable, irreversible and final, but in Malaysia, even if you are already acquitted, a higher court can still reverse the judgment of your acquittal. I believe that this principle or policy or practice is not only unfavourable to the accused but also mocks the very definition of due process.
“So, in Malaysia for example, if an individual is acquitted, he or she cannot celebrate his or her vindication, because he or she must wait whether or not the prosecutor (which in truth and in fact must be called as the persecutor) will decide to appeal his or her judgment of acquittal!
“This is preposterously unjust, hilarious to the maximum and stupid to the core, to say the least! Undeniably, this is the heights of absurdity and grave injustice! Shame!”
The evil that will be spawned by this practice or rule or policy is that of multiple prosecutions and its being violative of the Double Jeopardy rule.
The purpose of the Double Jeopardy rule
Primarily, it prevents the State from using its criminal processes as an instrument of harassment to wear out the accused by a multitude of cases with accumulated trials. (Abbate v. US, 3 L Ed 2d 729, March 30, 1959.)
It also serves the additional purpose of precluding the State, following an acquittal, from successively retrying the defendant in the hope of securing a conviction. (Hoag v. New Jersey, 2 L Ed 913, May 19, 1958.)
And finally, it prevents the State, following conviction, from retrying the defendant again in the hope of securing a greater penalty. (North Carolina v. Pearce, 23 L Ed 2d 656, June 23, 1969.)
The Tiger of Jelutong
I am commending Karpal’s defiance and courage especially when he categorically stated that he is standing by his statement in February 2009 that the Sultan was not above the law.
“I was doing my duty as an MP and lawyer that the Ruler can be taken to court…
“If you are afraid, then you cannot represent the people. The fight goes on…”
LONG LIVE ANWAR! LONG LIVE KARPAL!!!
Jose Mario Dolor De Vega
College of Arts and Letters
Polytechnic University of the Philippines
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