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Thursday, April 23, 2009

> Karpal wants sedition charge thrown out

DAP chairman Karpal Singh, charged with making seditious statements against the Sultan of Perak, today claimed the prosecution’s case against him is flawed and should be thrown out of court.

The wheelchair-bound veteran lawyer, who represented himself in the High Court today, denied the charge that he had committed sedition against Sultan Azlan Shah during a press conference here in early February over the ruler’s actions at the height of the Perak crisis.

Citing Section 5 of the Sedition Act 1948, Karpal argued the prosecution had failed to get a proper written consent, a document that is required under the law in order to try him for sedition.

He said the written consent provided by the Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail is “defective” because it did not detail the specific words he had allegedly said in his press conference which are allegedly seditious in nature.

Karpal also said the written consent should have detailed the exact nature of the sedition against him, and pointed out in his case it referred to a provision in Section 3(1)(a) which states: “to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against any Ruler or against any government”.

However, the prosecution, led by Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Kamaluddin Md Said, argued the law did not require the specifics of the seditious words to be laid out in the written consent.

“This is just a consent to prosecute. How can more particulars be written in the consent than in the charge? This is absurd,” he pointed out.

But Karpal was adamant. Using the analogy of the chicken and egg situation, where the written consent was the egg and the charge the chicken, he stressed that the written consent is the prerequisite to the charge and must come first.

“It didn’t say what the seditious words were. They should have done it first before they go to the charge,” Karpal told reporters later.

“The idea of Section 5 is not to have frivolous prosecution,” the Bukit Gelugor MP said.

“Under Section 32(a) of the Sedition Act, it is not a seditious tendency if I point out to the Ruler he is mistaken. I’m telling him, I think you’re wrong because it’s unconstitutional,” he added.

He noted the Attorney General must think and act thoroughly before choosing to bring such serious charges against a person.

Karpal, who is presently out on a bail of RM2,000, wants the court to discharge the case against him.

But as he also pointed out to reporters, the matter can be what he called a “DNA” or “discharge not amounting to an acquittal”.

“They can charge me again if they want,” he said.

High Court judicial commissioner, Azman Abdullah, has fixed next Wednesday to announce his decision.

Karpal was charged with sedition on March 17 for saying Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin's removal as Perak mentri besar by Sultan Azlan Shah could be questioned in a court of law.

The veteran lawyer-politician was charged at the Sessions Court here before Judge Mohamad Sekeri Mamat under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1946.

Karpal is further accused of several other seditious statements related to the entire Perak constitutional crisis which began two months ago.

He is accused of committing the crime during a press conference at his law firm here on February 6.

A partial transcript of the press conference, which formed the basis for the charge, was read out in open court.

Among the underlined statements, supposedly seditious, are:

“With that ruling of the federal court which has stood the test of time for 32 years beyond a pale of a doubt, the Sultan of Perak has contravened Article 16(6) of the Constitutions of the State of Perak,” referring to a 1977 Federal Court decision that the King had acted beyond his authority in confirming three detention orders under the Emergency Ordinance.

“Clearly the Sultan of Perak cannot invoke his powers under Article 16(1) which states [His Royal Highness shall appoint an Executive Council] to appoint a Barisan Nasional Executive Council with a new Menteri Besar and a new government. The Government of a Menteri Besar Dato’ Haji Nizar bin Jamaluddin still had constitutional supremacy and legitimacy. The actions of the Sultan of Perak are clearly, premature.”

Karpal pleaded not guilty.

This is Karpal’s second sedition charge. His first was in January 2000, for supposedly making seditious statements on arsenic poisoning during the corruption trial of sacked deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

But the prosecution later dropped the charge against him and he walked out a free man.

If found guilty this time, Karpal can be fined up to RM5,000 and could spend up to three years behind bars - The Malaysian Insider.