Unless Hadi can give assurance that the Hudud and Qisas Bill is suspended until there is national multi-racial and multi-religious consensus, it is virtually impossible for DAP to render any form of assistance in the Pendang and Anak Bukit by-elections

Media Conference Statement
- at the launching of the second phase of “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” People’s Awareness Campaign in the Tanjong parliamentary constituency 
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang,  Thursday): It is not only the United States government which is disappointed with the Federal Court decision to uphold the conviction and six-year sentence of former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on charges of corruption, but all decent and right-thinking Malaysians are also disappointed as well as outraged that a great chance had been missed for a bold and decisive step to restore public confidence in a truly independent judiciary and a just rule of law in Malaysia.

This is what a spokesperson of the United States Department of State said in expressing the disappointment of the US Administration yesterday: “As our annual human rights report noted, the legal process in his original trial was questionable. We urge the Malaysian government to ensure that justice is served in Anwar’s case.”

On whether the US has given Malaysia the “green light” to crack down on human rights issue in view of warming relations, the spokesperson said the US will continue to support democracy, the rule of law and human rights globally as these are “crucial to eliminating conditions under which terrorism thrives”.

“We have made clear in recent meetings with Malaysian leaders that the US remains committed to monitoring and promoting respect for human rights in Malaysia and elsewhere in the world,” added the spokesperson.

In January this year, the United States Ambassador to Malaysia, Marie T. Huhtala said that the United States government stood firm on its conviction that the Anwar trials were “manifestly unfair”, that Anwar did not get fair court trials but believed this could be “corrected in the appeals process”.  

This followed her statement to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a nominee for US Ambassador to Malaysia on 25th July 2001, where she said:  

“We remain deeply concerned by the case of jailed former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and the treatment of members of the political opposition. As Malaysia develops into a high-tech economy and information society, restrictions on basic rights such as freedom of speech and assembly are incompatible with its long-term goals. This is an area where we can work with Malaysia to develop modern political freedoms to match its modernizing economy.”

The US Administration will need to do more than just to express mild disappointment at the Federal Court judgment to convince Malaysians and the world that it has not compromised its much-vaunted human rights policy for the support of the Mahathir administration  for President Bush’s arbitrary and capricious war against terrorism.  

Is the US Administration prepared to make a strong and sustained representation to the Malaysian government before Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad steps down as the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia in October next year that Anwar should be restored his personal liberties, whether through a royal pardon or other avenues? 

The continued travesty of justice in Anwar’s trial and tribulations and the 16-month power transition for Mahathir to transfer the full powers and office of the Prime Minister to Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi after the OIC Summit in Kuala Lumpur in October next year should be the two biggest issues in the Pendang and Anak Bukit by-elections.  

Unfortunately, both these issues have been overshadowed by the enactment of the Terengganu PAS Syariah Criminal Offences (Hudud and Qisas) Bill by the Terengganu State Assembly on Monday, on five important grounds – being against the Malaysian Constitution, violates human rights, discriminate against women, destroys the whole basis of the 1999 Barisan Alternative Common Manifesto “Towards A Just Malaysia” and flouts strong and widespread objections by the civil society.   

I told a Parti Keadilan Nasional Central Committee member after the Federal Court judgment on Wednesday that it is most tragic that the the Anwar case would not be able to be the centerpiece of the campaign issues of the two by-elections because of the Hudud and Qisas Bill.  

Furthermore, it has virtually made it impossible for the DAP to render any form of assistance in the two by-elections to deny the Barisan Nasional two-thirds majority in the Kedah State Assembly and promote a two-coalition system to provide a strong check and balance against the Barisan Nasional political hegemony – as coming immediately after the enactment of the Hudud and Qisas Bill in Terengganu, it would be seen as endorsement of the the syariah criminal law and its future imposition on non-Muslims as declared by Hadi during the winding-up of the debate in the Terengganu State Assembly on Monday.  

DAP does not want a Barisan Nasional victory in the two Kedah by-elections which could be  used by Mahathir and UMNO to claim that the Anwar Ibrahim issue is dead and that Mahathir’s  “929 Declaration” at the Gerakan national assembly on Sept. 29 last year that Malaysia is an Islamic State has the support of the voters. 

However, DAP also does not want the two by-elections to be used as a mandate for the enactment of the Hudud and Qisas Bill in Terengganu, which goes against the 1999 Barisan Alternative Common Manifesto and destroys the whole rationale for the establishment of the Barisan Alternative.  

The ball is in the court of Hadi, and this was why I suggested yesterday that PAS and BA should  stop all development and implementation of the Hudud and Qisas Bill, including the withholding of the Bill from the Sultan of Terengganu for royal assent, until the fullest national multi-racial and multi-religious consensus could be reached to avoid gravely splitting the plural Malaysian nation.

Unless Hadi can give assurance that the Hudud and Qisas Bill is suspended until there is national multi-racial and multi-religious consensus, it is virtually impossible for DAP to render any form of assistance in the Pendang and Anak Bukit by-elections.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman