Aliran is outraged by the shocking verdict that convicted Karpal Singh of sedition.
If what he had said during the 2009 constitutional crisis after the overthrow of the legitimately elected Perak state government was deemed as seditious, why then has the Sedition Act not been applied to the many recent cases when so many extremists uttered statements that were inciting and provoking?
It is clearly an act of selective persecution and prosecution.
Malaysians are wondering if this is the forerunner to more court convictions of other opposition leaders and critical social activists whose cases are still pending?
Karpal had consistently maintained that it was not his intention to criticise His Highness, the Sultan of Perak. His stand was that he had expressed an opinion based on the Constitution, which provides for special courts for the Rulers to be charged. His opinion was based on the fact that there was room for this expression as provided for in the Constitution.
Karpal Singh had not shown any deliberate disrespect to the Sultan of Perak. But police reports were lodged against Karpal in defence of the royalty – which set in motion the process for Karpal to be formally charged.
It is an irony that no one felt offended when, way back in the 1980s, mammoth Semarak rallies were held to vilify the royalty by the then prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad. No one was outraged. They followed their leader and cheered him on in his onslaught on the royalty. Mahathir condemned their lifestyle, ridiculed their court language and clipped their wings.
Those who can remember may recall the incident when the Johor hockey coach, Douglas Gomez, was summoned and slapped by His Highness, the Sultan of Johor. It was this incident that led to the constitutional amendment that removed the legal immunity of the royalty and provided for the setting up of special courts.
Karpal was obviously referring to this provision in the constitution.
The Bill that Parliament subsequently passed allowed for rulers who violated the laws to be prosecuted, while the Sedition Act of 1948 was also amended to allow public criticism of the rulers. A special court was created – presided by the Lord President of the Federal Court – to empower and prosecute members of the rulers’ coterie and immediate members of the royal household.
Under the circumstance, Aliran is really upset by this turn of events.
Aliran executive committee member
22 February 2014