KUALA LUMPUR, March 29 ― Despite Karpal Singh’s voluntary decision today to step down as DAP chairman pending his sedition conviction appeal, the party’s secretary-general Lim Guan Eng has proposed reserving a seat on its central executive council (CEC) for the 73-year-old.
Lim said the proposal will be raised in the CEC's next meeting this April 7.
“I think it will be unanimous. We want to reserve the CEC position for Karpal and we believe, if he succeeds in his appeal, hopefully, he will revert back as DAP national chairman,” he said in a joint news conference with Karpal in Penang, earlier today.
The Malay Mail Online managed to obtain an audio recording of the conference.
At the same news conference, Karpal said he has no choice but to vacate his party posts despite his view that the Sedition Act is “an outdated and irrelevant legislation” and a “sad relic of British colonialism”.
He stressed that the law states clearly that he cannot continue to hold any party posts until and unless his conviction is either set aside or his fine reduced to below RM2,000, to legally qualify as an office bearer under the Societies Act.
“Under these circumstances, I am publicly announcing that I am, pending my appeal to the Court of Appeal, stepping aside as chairman of DAP,” he said.
Lim, however, insisted that this is no indication of “the end” to Karpal's long political career, stressing that it is not the first time a party leader had faced such a situation.
“Previously when I was in prison, I also could not hold any position (in the party), so this is the same position,” Lim said, referring to his 12-month imprisonment in the late 1990s for sedition.
“There are those who say this is the end of Karpal. I want to dispel such notions. This is compelled by the law and Karpal as a lawyer is just abiding by the law... we will wait for the return of Karpal,” Lim added.
Karpal has held the DAP chair for nearly 10 years now, since taking over from party veteran Lim Kit Siang in September 2004.
On February 21 this year, Karpal was found guilty of sedition over his remarks on the Perak Sultan’s role in the 2009 state constitutional crisis.
He had initially been acquitted in 2010 without having to enter his defence over the sedition charge stemming from a press conference in February 2009 in which he said the Perak Ruler’s decision to remove Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin as mentri besar in favour of Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir was open to legal challenge.
In 2009, three Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers defected to become pro-Barisan Nasional independents, which caused the state won by the informal pact in Election 2008 to fall back into the hands of the latter coalition.
Karpal’s conviction last month had attracted criticism, with critics pointing out that Putrajaya had continued to use the Sedition Act despite previously promising in July 2012 to repeal the now 66-year-old law.
A number of federal opposition politicians and activists were also charged last year under the Sedition Act.