Charging DAP rep for insulting Umno an ‘insult to democracy’, says Guan Eng

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the charges against Rayer was an insult to democracy and against the sanctity of the state assembly. ― Picture by K.E. Ooi
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the charges against Rayer was an insult to democracy and against the sanctity of the state assembly. ― Picture by K.E. Ooi

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GEORGE TOWN, Aug 27 — DAP condemned the twin sedition charges against its state representative today, criticising the indictment as a politically-motivated act rather than one of law.

Party secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said the prosecution of RSN Rayer was an “insult to democracy and the sanctity of the state assembly”, in particular the first charge in which the Seri Delima assemblyman allegedly insulted Umno with the “celaka” epithet.

 “This is the first time in Malaysian history when a political party was insulted is considered as seditious,” he told a news conference here immediately after Rayer was charged at the Penang Sessions Court.

Rayer was charged in two separate courts today for allegedly uttering seditious words with the phrase “celaka Umno” first at the state legislative assembly on May 20 and second for uttering similar words in a speech at a park in Island Glades on May 22.

“If this is considered seditious, then why the Attorney General [sic] did not take action against Barisan Nasional leaders who made similar criticisms against Pakatan Rakyat parties?” Lim asked, and added, “This is obviously double standards.”

Lim, who is also Penang chief minister, had attended the court hearing with other DAP leaders as a mark of solidarity with Rayer.

Rayer also faced an alternative charge of incitement for delivering the speech that contain the words “ini Umno memang celaka” in his speech on May 22.

The alternative charge, under Section 504 of the Penal Code for intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace, carries a jail term of up to two years or fine or both.

Lim said the charges against Rayer were obviously to spite DAP leaders, noting that the second charge was of Rayer’s speech made during the Bukit Gelugor by-election period earlier this year.

“The first one was for what he said in the state assembly and this is an insult to the democratic system and also the sanctity of the state assembly,” said Lim, who is also Bagan MP.

He said the party and its leaders will fight along with Rayer to the end over this.

“We will hold on to our spirit to fight this based in the federal constitution, democracy and justice,” he said.

Rayer’s lead counsel, Gobind Singh Deo, said he will write to the Attorney-General to withdraw all sedition charges against all political leaders including Rayer’s case.

“The sedition act is an outdated act that should be repealed. That is why we are firmly against it being used against political leaders,” said Gobind, who is also Puchong MP.

He added that the use of the act to penalise political leaders is inconsistent with the Prime Minister’s speech in which he had expressed his vision of having the best democratic system in the world.

“The act that they continue to use the sedition act on political leaders is inconsistent with what the Prime Minister said,” Gobind said.

Rayer posted RM3,000 bail each for each charge. Both cases are scheduled for hearing on October 17.

Rayer’s controversial “celaka Umno” remark had sparked protests by Umno Youth members who had demonstrated and then invaded the august hall on May 21.

A total 15 men were arrested for the state assembly intrusion and they were charged with house trespass on June 19.

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