Media Statement by Teresa Kok in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, 24th November 2008:

DAP welcomes acquital of Dr Irene Fernandez, calls for inquiry into conduct of case and review of outdated legislation 

I welcome the decision of the Kuala Lumpur High Court to acquit and discharge of Dr Irene Fernandez of the charge of "maliciously publishing false news" under section 8A(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984. Albeit many years late, this decision exonerates her and gives hope to the many other Malaysians who are struggling for justice under the various other oppressive laws such as the ISA (Internal Security Act) , the Restricted Residence Ordinance, the Police Act etc.

I note that she was first charged in 1996 and her case has earned the notorious record of being the longest-running legal case in Malaysian history.

Through the past 13 years, I cannot begin to comprehend the mental anguish, psychological duress and physical stress that this brave woman suffered for daring to speak truth to power and for selflessly seeking to expose malpractices, to seek justice and better working conditions for migrant workers who are in Malaysia to earn a living and in the process contribute to Malaysia's economic progress.

I call upon the Attorney-General and the Minister responsible for Law to do the right thing and commission an urgent inquiry into the circumstances of the original charges against Dr Fernandez, the conduct of the trial and the many mishaps along the way such as the unreasonable delays, the missing physical records of evidence and the loss of computer data. This is a classic example of the legal maxim of "justice delayed is justice denied".

I stress that I am not, for one moment, questioning the jurisdiction or the prerogative of the Courts in the conduct of this case. I welcome the decision as hopefully, an indication of the reformed and independent judiciary that the new Chief Justice, Tan Sri Zaki Azmi promised Malaysians when he took office recently.

I also wish to call upon the Attorney-General to henceforth review all legislation such as the one that Dr Fernandez was charged under with a view of amending and even repealing all outdated legislation that no longer have a place in modern democratic society.

Finally, I call upon the government to consider some form of compensation in consideration of Dr Fernandez's ordeal arising from the long-drawn out trial.

* Teresa Kok Suh Sim, DAP National Organising Secretary & MP for Seputeh