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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Karpal Singh: 'Disaffection' Not An UMNO State Of Mind

Accusations of sedition are being hurled around as if it is going out of fashion.

I think the offence of sedition in itself ridiculous. It is a vestige of colonialism that was aimed at only one thing: silencing of free expression to protect vested interest. I have decried recourse to the Sedition Act and have consistently advised against filing police reports for sedition. It does not matter who says what, be they from the Barisan Nasional, its component parties or those that make up the Pakatan Rakyat; if statements are found to be offensive, there is ample room in the public space to take it up there without having to criminalise expression. God knows, there are more important things for the police to be focusing on.

The case of Mr Karpal Singh illustrates this. Rightly or wrongly, he expressed a view concerning the position taken by His Royal Highness the Sultan of Perak. His view concerned the validity of the legal position taken by the Sultan. If Mr Karpal Singh is right, then the Sultan, respectfully, erred in issuing a show cause to the Menteri Besar of Perak in the way that was done. If Mr Karpal Singh was wrong, then the Sultan was correct.

Where is the sedition in this? I cannot see it. If there are those who disagree with his view, let them state their position and then let all involved agree to disagree.

It is not sedition to voice an opinion. It is only where the opinion is stated in a way that gives rise to a ‘seditious tendency’ within the meaning of the Sedition Act that the opinion could be arguably characterised as being seditious. The Sedition Act sets out six heads of a seditious tendency as follows:
  1. to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against any Ruler or against any Government;
  2. to excite the subjects of any Ruler or the inhabitants of any territory governed by any Government to attempt to procure in the territory of the Ruler or governed by the Government, the alteration, otherwise than by lawful means, of any matter as by law established;
  3. to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the administration of justice in Malaysia or in any State;
  4. to raise discontent or disaffection amongst the subjects of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or of the Ruler of any State or amongst the inhabitants of Malaysia or of any State;
  5. to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Malaysia; or
  6. to question any matter, right, status, position, privilege, sovereignty or prerogative established or protected by the provisions of Part III of the Federal Constitution or Article 152, 153 or 181 of the Federal Constitution.
Looking at the facts of the scenario at hand, it would appear that those who accuse Mr Karpal Singh of sedition take refuge in limbs (1) or (4). Mr Karpal Singh has clarified that he did not seek to question the prerogative of the Sultan, such as it was, and contends that in his view the Sultan was not exercising prerogative in the circumstances.

It is significant that at the heart of both limbs (1) and (4) is a requirement of, at the very least, discontent or disaffection. To establish this is no easy task. It is not enough to merely point to the words giving rise to a tendency towards, putting it simply, dissatisfaction. It is necessary to establish that the potential dissatisfaction would be directed at the institution of the Sultan and would be of such a widespread nature that the institution itself would be in danger.

As was observed by the High Court (PP v Param Coomarswamy, 1986):

"Disaffection" means disloyalty, enemity and hostility against Authority. In the same way, "discontent" means dissatisfaction against Authority. Therefore, "to raise discontent or disaffection" among the people means to create discontent or disaffection among the people against Authority. Consequently, the assertion of a grievance or complaint which tends to create discontent must be directed at Authority for it to be seditious.

Looking on at the enthusiastic show-boating by certain UMNO quarters, I am hard pressed to conclude that such expressions as we have heard would amount to a dissatisfaction, let alone such a level of dissatisfaction.

Quite aside from that, it is significant that thus far no one, including the Attorney General, has pointed to section 3(2)(a), Sedition Act which plainly provides: act, speech, words, publication or other things shall not be deemed to be seditious by reason only that it has a tendency to show that any Ruler has been misled or mistaken in any of his measures;

Is that not what Mr Karpal Singh was attempting to do? An inference to the contrary is something which, try as I might, I cannot draw from the circumstances.

UMNO must realize the glass house it is in. Judged by the criteria forming the basis of its position on the issue of Mr Karpal Singh having committed sedition, much of what was said in and around the appointments of the Menteri Besars of Perlis and Trengganu could similarly be said to be seditious. But then, I wonder whether this even matters. The political expediency of the very public and highly sensationalised accusations appears to outweigh all other considerations.



Donplaypuks® said...

Dear Imtiaz

You are pretty much preaching to the converted.

No sane person in M'sia believes that Karpal uttered seditious sentiments or that the citizens were being 'excited' to overthrow the Sultans or the Govt.

This is a clear and naked attempt to distract the masses at a time when we (and the world) are beset with serious problems such as rising inflation, & oil and food prices, not to mention food crop failures.

Even if Karpal were to be fpound guilty in court and a by-election held, does AAB & UMNO think they have a smidgen of a chance of gaining that seat?

So, it is stupid poor-strategy high stakes poker which will put yet another nail in UMNO's coffin. Just who is the Govt's advisor?He's the first person who should be fired!! Or, maybe not. Let them continue on this vein at their own peril.

What's really amazing (and sad) is that I Raja Polis, Polis Raja & Ganesh Patel should all be rushing headlong to please their political masters, like so many lemmings jumping over a cliff-edge.

Anonymous said...

I salute Karpal for being so brave to speak out against injustice! Isn’t that what true leaders are supposed to do, rather than cowardly hide behind some comfort zone just to maintain their power and position? True leaders of rakyat must also fight for justice not just for power for goodness sake! BY THE WAY, UMNO IS DEVIOUSLY USING THE MONARCHY AND ISLAM TO CONTINUE ITS BARBARIC DOMINANCE AND INJUSTICE TO THE RAKYAT! KINGS ARE NOT GOD FOR GOODNESS SAKE, THE ORDINARY MALAYS BETTER REALIZE THAT!

Umno now is deceitfully and most cunningly increasingly using the monarchy and Islam to entrench its power-base; especially amongst the Malay communities. Now constructing the fake “Malay Unity” ideology in parallel to the “Malay Supremacy” ideology(what do I have in common with evil Malays may I ask despite being a Malay myself?!)! Just like NEP was deemed untouchable issue, why not such issues, which have caused so much suffering to the ordinary rakyat and women be anymore untouchable! Easy for a male, who doesn’t understand what injustice and oppression of women in Islam means in not wanting to be critical of the injustice in Islam! Nor am I a cow who’s going to moo anymore if the elite or royal Malays, especially if some idiot sexist, sadist, fascist and chauvinist males tell me to; for goodness sake this is the modern world! Those slavery times of women and ordinary rakyat are over; so the monarchy/elitist class including in the Malay or Islamic civilization better get over it! Out of the primitive cave-dweller mentality get it! By the way, I as a Malay have more in common and great respect for a true leader like Karpal than towards those fascist, racist and sadist Umno bastards! I'm done with fake politeness amidst such evilness of Umno!

Noor Aza Othman.

Mr. Smith said...

Quite aside from that, it is significant that thus far no one, including the Attorney General....
The AG has never shown himself to be neutral or impartial. He is more of an UMNO stooge.
Remember how he appeared in the magistrate's court against the Hindraf 31 and charged them with attempted murder and then withdrew the charge when told to do so by his political master?
Oh, don't forget his contributions to injustice during the Anwar saga and his tete a tete with Manjit Singh.

Old Fart said...

"much of what was said in and around the appointments of the Menteri Besars of Perlis and Trengganu could similarly be said to be seditious"

Not only said. There were many things done too. Would that not take it from the realm of sedition and into treason?

Old Fart said...

Finally a Keadilan member has made a police report on Badawi for sedition for his words and actions over the Trengganu Mentri Besar appointment. The number of reports made against Karpal by UMNO lackeys must probably be matched and I suppose more reports need to be made against Badawi.