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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

> Karpal charged with sedition

Outspoken DAP stalwart Karpal Singh is expected to be charged under the Sedition Act tomorrow in relation to his threat to sue the Perak ruler over the political crisis in the state.

Contacted this evening, the veteran politician, who has since received a death threat, two live bullets, and mobbed by Umno Youth members since the crisis erupted, confirmed the matter.

"I have been informed that I will be charged under the Sedition Act tomorrow. I was told that it is related to the Perak issue but there are no further details," said the renowned lawyer.

Following Barisan Nasional's political coup in Perak in February, Karpal drew flak when he threatened to drag Sultan Azlan Shah to court for consenting to the installation of the new state government.

He was then accused of disparaging the royal institution, leading several groups to stage protests against the DAP national chairperson. Soon after this, he received the handwritten death threat and bullets in the mail.

However, Karpal remained defiant and even compared his stand on the issue with the aptly titled Bollywood blockbuster, 'Singh is King'.

He also drew another volley of protest when he accused the 'celaka' (damn) Umno Youth of being responsible for the bullets and death threat, which the police have since ruled out.

A group of angry Umno Youth supporters then mobbed the wheelchair-bound politician in the Parliament lobby, demanding for an apology.

Earlier today, Karpal's son and Puchong MP Gobind Singh was suspended from Parliament for a year for linking incoming premier Najib Abdul Razak to the murder of Mongolian national Altantunya Shaariibuu during a heated parliamentary debate.

'Darkness descends'

In a brief comment posted on his blog regarding Karpal being charged, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang said: "Darkness descends every day with Najib Abdul Razak getting closer to becoming the next prime minister."

Eight others have since also been charged with insulting the sultan on the Internet in relation to the political situation. 

Detractors have dismissed the takeover, which transpired following several defections by Pakatan Rakyat state assemblypersons, as an underhand tactic and have demanded for a fresh state polls.

The crisis also paved the way for a multitude of legal suits.

In a related development, the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) today expressed concern over the mass charging of individuals who posted their comments on the Internet.

As for the Sedition Act, Suhakam commissioner Muhammad Shafee Abdullah described it as an anathema to the concept of freedom of speech.

"But like any other rights, freedom of speech must come with responsibility," he said in a statement.

He also noted that the provisions under the sedition law must be impartially and fairly used to avoid any misapprehension on the part of the public.

"In order for the authority to avoid any perception of selective prosecution, it is incumbent upon the public prosecutor to inform the public of his decision as to whether or not certain reports of sedition merit prosecution or otherwise," he said in a statement - Malaysiakini.