KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 24 — DAP’s Karpal Singh today urged Kajang voters to strip Barisan Nasional’s (BN) candidate of her deposit to express their discontent with sedition laws that allowed him to be convicted for commenting on the 2009 Perak constitutional crisis.
Telling voters to rise up in his stead, the Bukit Gelugor MP who faces disqualification as a lawmaker following his conviction last week said the people of Kajang have the opportunity to convince the ruling BN government of their unhappiness with such laws.
“Every citizen is required, in view of this very dangerous precedent set in my conviction, to rise up to the occasion and make it clear to the government that such encroachment to the right of a citizen’s freedom of expression, as ordained in the Federal Constitution, will not be lightly taken,” Karpal said in a posting on Facebook today.
Insisting his comment was a legal opinion that did not constitute sedition, the veteran lawyer pointed out that he was found guilty of a law that the government has promised to and repeatedly insists it will abolish.
“People of Kajang should in the coming by-election give expression to that discontentment by ensuring that the BN candidate loses her deposit.”
MCA’s Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun was last week confirmed as BN’s candidate to take on Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in the Kajang by-election.
On Friday, Karpal was found guilty of uttering seditious comments against the Sultan of Perak in 2009 when he said during a press conference then that the Ruler’s decision to replace remove Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin as mentri besar in favour of Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir was open to legal challenge.
He had previously been acquitted without having his defence called over the same charge, before the prosecution successfully appealed the decision.
The Bar Council later labelled Karpal’s conviction as “selective persecution” under what it described as the “archaic and draconian” Sedition Act 1948, while Lawyers for Liberty slammed the decision as signalling the return of “authoritarianism and political persecution” in the country.
Putrajaya pledged to repeal the Sedition Act as part of its commitment to provide Malaysians with greater civil liberties, but continues to enforce the colonial era law against opposition members and activists.
Karpal, who was charged under Section 4(1)(b) of the Act, could now face a maximum three years’ jail, RM5,000 fine or both.
He risks disqualification as Bukit Gelugor MP if he is fined more than RM1,000 or sentenced to more than one year in prison.
The DAP national chairman will learn his fate when his sentence is meted out on March 11, the same day as nomination for the March 23 Kajang by-election.