Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Karpal charged with sedition

Bukit Gelugor member of parliament Karpal Singh was charged with sedition in Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court this morning in relation to his threat to sue the Perak ruler over the political crisis in the state. - Malaysiakini.

He was charged under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act and faces a maximum jail sentence of three years or a RM5,000 fine or both if found guilty. Subsequent offences are punishable with a maximum jail sentence of five years.

Karpal pleaded not guilty before judge Mohamad Sekeri Mamat and was released on a RM2,000 bail with one surety.

The prosecution claimed that Karpal had committed the offence on Feb 6, between noon and 12.30pm, at his legal firm in Jalan Pudu Ulu, Kuala Lumpur.

The allegedly seditious statement read out this morning was from a partial transcript of a press conference held at the law firm, during which Karpal had said Sultan Azlan Shah could be taken to court in his official capacity for authorising the removal of Pakatan Rakyat Perak Menteri Besar Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin.

Based on the underlined parts of the transcript, Karpal is alleged to have said: ‘With that ruling of the federal court which has stood the test of time for 32 years, beyond a pale of a doubt, the Sultan of Perak has contravened Article 16(6) of the constitution of the state of Perak.

‘In my view, until such time the assembly has invoked the provision of Article 33(1), both Mohd Osman Jailu and Jamaludin Mohd Radzi remained PKR assemblymen, together with Jelapang assemblywoman Hee Yit Foong remaining with the DAP until her resignation letter was subjected to determination by the assembly pursuant to Article 33(1), thereby causing the Pakatan Rakyat to have 31 members in the assembly of 60 members.

It cannot therefore be said that the Sultan of Perak acted intra vires (when) in fact (he) acted ultra vires Article 16(6) when he determined that Menteri Besar (Mohd) Nizar Jamaludin had ceased to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the legislative assembly and was therefore required to tender resignation of the executive council over which he presided including his own

‘Clearly the Sultan of Perak cannot invoke his powers under Article 16(1) which states [His Royal Highness shall appoint an Executive Council] to appoint a Barisan Nasional executive council with a new menteri besar and a new government. The government of Menteri Besar Nizar Jamaludin still had constitutional supremacy and legitimacy. The actions of the Sultan of Perak are clearly premature.’

The veteran lawyer told reporters later that the case is a complicated one.

“The entire statement including the question-and-answer (session) with certain parts underlined are parts which are said to be seditious. Surely it must in the context of the entire statement. Otherwise, like I said, take only the underlined parts as the charge and not the whole thing,” he said.

He also said he agreed with the prosecution’s application to transfer the case to the High Court because there would then be “an opportunity to take it up to the Federal Court”.If the case is tried in the Sessions Court, the next step would be to go to the Court of Appeal.

“This is a serious matter and we do not want wrong precedence to be set. The Federal Court is the highest court in the country to once and for all decide what are the parameters,” said Karpal.

Karpal was represented by 13 lawyers, including himself and his four children -Jagdeep Singh. Ram Karpal Singh, Gobind Singh and Sangeet Kaur.He described the presence of family-members in the courtroom today as “comforting”, also saying they support him all the way.

Other prominent lawyers assisting with the proceedings are Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, RSN. Rayer, N Sankara Nair, M Kulasegaran, M Manogaran, Lim Lip Eng, R Ramesh Sivakumar and KA Ramu.Senior federal counsel Kamaluddin Md Said and Mohd Hanafiah Zakaria represented the prosecution. - Malaysiakini

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