Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail : A moral choice for Kajang, Selangor and Malaysia

By Lim Guan Eng

Having failed to beat Pakatan Rakyat through the ballot box in the 13th General Election, when BN lost the popular vote to PR which obtained majority support with 51%, the BN government is pursuing political persecution to defeat PR leaders by dirty means.

In the last week, we have seen two convictions against leading PR leaders whom BN lost repeatedly in the ballot box. Opposition Leader and PR Chief Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim was handed a five-year jail sentence for sodomy or “carnal intercourse against the order of nature,” while DAP National Chairman Karpal Singh, who also happens to be Anwar’s lead defence counsel, was convicted for sedition and fined RM4,000 by the High Court.

Both convictions effectively mean that Anwar and Karpal would be disqualified as Members of Parliament. However, while their disqualification as MPs would be stayed pending appeal, both Anwar and Karpal are effectively ineligible to contest as candidates in elections, hence the need for Anwar’s wife, Wan Azizah to stand for the Kajang by-election.

DAP strongly condemns in no uncertain terms the gross abuse of power and political witch-hunt by the Attorney-General’s Chambers. The fact remains that in any other free and democratic country, both Anwar and Karpal’s cases would not even have seen the light of day in court, considering the clear lack of evidence by the prosecution. In fact, Anwar and Karpal had previously been acquitted in both cases, before the AG’s Chambers appealed.

In addition, the timing of the convictions and sentencing is also suspect, as they were brought forward and rushed in order to disrupt Anwar’s plan to contest in the Kajang by-election. This lends further credence to the claim of political intimidation and has resulted in widespread condemnation and disparagement, both locally and internationally.

For example, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch in Asia, Phil Robertson, said that Anwar’s trial “was all about knocking him (Anwar) out of politics and the government was prepared to do whatever it took to make that happen”. Meanwhile, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) condemned Anwar’s conviction as a miscarriage of justice, saying it “casts doubts on the independence and impartiality of the Malaysian judiciary and tarnishes the reputation of the country’s legal system”. The ICJ also commented on Karpal’s conviction by saying that “the decision shows the government’s lack of respect for the principles of free expression and is inconsistent with international law.”

Locally, the cases have elicited strong condemnation by groups such as the Malaysian Bar, Suaram and Lawyers for Liberty, with the latter stating that the conviction reaffirmed “the return of iron-fist authoritarian rule and Najib Razak’s false reformist credentials.” Many have also pointed out the inconsistency of the government in using the archaic Sedition Act, which the Prime Minister Najib himself promised to repeal.

The failure of the Prime Minister to fulfill his promise to repeal the much maligned Sedition Act and coupled with continued exploitation of the draconian laws to remove political opponents is ushering in a new period of repression and oppression. With many other PR and civil activist leaders due to face the courts on sedition and other charges, there is a real possibility that many more PR leaders will be convicted in the same manner.

As such, it is a moral imperative that Malaysians stand up and be counted to defend our fundamental constitutional rights of rule of law, justice for all and fairness without fear or favour. This makes the Kajang by-election a crucial test to decide whether justice is a victim of power or serves the ordinary citizens. It is no longer simply a by-election for a state seat in Selangor, but a battle for people’s power for prosperity, stability and moral dignity against the injustice, intimidation and persecution by the BN government.

Therefore, the DAP calls on all Kajang voters as well as all Malaysians to support Kak Wan as the moral choice not only for Kajang voters but also for Selangor and Malaysia as well.

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