Last month, Utusan Malaysia was found guilty of defaming Lim Guan Eng. The judge ruled that “the defendant showed selective vendetta against DAP and the plaintiff.” In honour of Guan Eng’s Utusan defamation triumph, we compile nine other watershed cases that have made a dent for citizen’s rights in the face of BN’s might.
1. Khir Toyo gets 12 months for graft, shampoo thief gets 24 months
In December 2011, former Selangor BN Chief and Ex-Menteri Besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo was found guilty and sentenced to 12 month’s jail for misusing his position as a public servant to obtain land at a highly reduced price.
Khir, a dentist, and his wife Zahrah Kechik purchased two plots of land and a bungalow in Shah Alam for RM3.5 million when in fact the lots were worth RM6.5 million.
Meanwhile, in Johor Bahru, a shampoo thief was jailed for 24 months; while a Terengganu thief who stole RM20 was sentenced to 36 months jail.
2. Former cabinet minister charged with PKFZ scandal
Former Transport Minister and MCA President Tun Ling Liong Sik is currently being charged for cheating in the RM1.08billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal.
While awaiting the verdict, to PKFZ has amassed losses of up to RM14billion and continues to be another white elephant mega project by BN.
Several corruption cases involving BN politicians include former minister Kasitah Gaddam who was charged with corruption (he was freed without his defence being called) and former Selangor MB Harun Idris who was sentenced to jail for corruption (he was pardoned by the King).
3. Constitutional win for UKM 4, but will it last?
In 2010, four Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) students were charged under the University and University Colleges Act (UUCA) for “showing support or sympathy with a political party” during the Hulu Selangor parliamentary by-election.
The UKM 4 won a case against the government where s15 of the UUCA was declared unconstitutional, a major moral victory for the pro-student rights movement. However, the decision may yet be reversed as the BN government is appealling.
4. Defections and drama in Perak power grab
The people lost this one when BN’s backdoor bloodless 2009 coup toppled the democratically-elected government in Perak, and dealt a fatal blow to the democratic process in Malaysia.
After a string of defections triggered a see-sawing majority in the State Assembly which swung from PR to BN to PR and finally BN, the court ruled to reinstate the BN government.
The epic power-grab saga ignited a moral debate on allowing the rise and fall of a government to be determined by a few “frogs”. At the height of the crisis, polls found that if fresh elections were to be called, PR held the lead.
5. Whose Allah is it?
A thorny issue in multi-religious Malaysia, religious rows have oft evoked the most emotional response from citizens of various backgrounds. In 2007 The Herald, a Catholic newspaper, filed a suit against the government seeking to use the word Allah, arguing that the word should not exclusive to Islam.
After intense public scrutiny and tense debate in the media, the court ruled in favor of The Herald. The ruling emphasized that use of the “Allah” by Christians is protected by the constitution as long as it is not used to proselytize Muslims.
6. Mongolian murder mystery
This sensational story of corruption, murder and sex seemed more fitting for a blockbuster novel than the purchase of Scorpene submarines by the Ministry of Defence.
Abdul Razak Baginda (political advisor to then-Defence Minister Najib Razak) and three members of the Unit Tindakan Khas (the Malaysian Police Special Action Force) were charged with the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Sharibuu, a translator hired to negotiate the submarine purchase.
Two of the UTK officers were also Najib’s bodyguards. Razak Baginda was acquitted while the other two were sent to the gallows.
7. Orang Asli suffering compensated
The livelihood of indigenous tribes has often been neglected in the wake of development. In 1995, the BN State government of Selangor forcibly acquired 38 acres of ancestral land from 23 families belonging to indigenous Temuan tribe, for the construction of a highway.
Initially, the government only compensated the displaced Temuan tribes for their houses and crops. In 2002, Sagong Bin Tasi and other affected Temuan Orang Aslis won a landmark victory and were awarded compensation for their land and damages for trespassing.
8. Anwar’s black eye incident
In the tumultuous days following Anwar Ibrahim’s 1998 sacking, a shocked nation watched as the sacked former Deputy Premier appeared in court with a black eye. A photo of the injured Anwar with one hand raised became a symbol of political opposition in many reformasi posters.
A Royal Commission was convened where former Inspector General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor admitted beating Anwar. Rahim was charged for the assault, he was given a two-month prison sentence and fined 2,000 ringgit.
9. “Cant understand English” Selangor MB arrested with RM3.8million in his hands
What is it with former Selangor MBs? In 1997, Tan Sri Muhammad bin Muhammad Taib, the then-MB of Selangor, was detained in an Australian airport with a suitcase stuffed with RM3.8mil. His absurd defence? That he did not understand English and therefore did not understand the currency regulations. He was charged but found not guilty. -The Rocket