PETALING JAYA, 18 March 2009: The MCA considers the sedition charge against Karpal Singh to be selective in nature and wants the Attorney-General to drop it.
The party’s political education bureau head, Gan Ping Sieu, said the MCA was of the view that Karpal’s difference of opinion with the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, did not amount to sedition.
Gan said the Sultan did enjoy discretionary power under Article 18(2) of the Perak state constitution in withholding his consent to a request for a dissolution of the state assembly.
On that point, the MCA disagreed with Karpal, who is the DAP national chairperson, for questioning the discretionary power of the sultan.
However, Gan noted that the legality of the sultan’s decision was a different matter.
“The MCA’s view is that the legality of the sultan’s decision can be questioned in a court of law. Whether the sultan’s decision is justiciable is a question of law that must be determined through the judicial process.
“Therefore, any statement disagreeing with, or in doubt of the legality of any decision by His Royal Highness, cannot be, on its own, be regarded as seditious in nature,” Gan said in a statement issued today.
Karpal had threatened to sue Sultan Azlan Shah specifically over the removal of Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin, and not over the ruler’s decision not to dissolve the assembly. There is no provision in the state constitution that allows the sultan to sack the menteri besar.
Gan noted that seditious remarks have been made by other politicians but they were never charged under the Act.
Gan cited the police reports lodged by MCA Penang against Bukit Bendera Umno chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail on his “pendatang” and “penumpang” remarks. Other than being suspended by his party, no other action has been taken.
As such, Gan said the charges against Karpal appeared to be selective and raised doubts about the impartiality of the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
“The proprietary to charge YB Karpal Singh is questionable and would only convey the perception of selective prosecution. The Attorney General must reconsider his decision.
“We are profoundly concerned that his decision to charge Karpal with Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1948 may bring disrepute to his office,” Gan said.
The MCA also considers the Sedition Act to be an archaic law that no longer benefited modern society.
“The laws attract criticisms and may even be seen as a repressive instrument. Its inconsistent applications speak for itself. There is pressing need for the government to review and make necessary amendments to the Act, including establishing a better mechanism that commands public confidence and lay down specific criteria to determine its application from time to time,” Gan said.