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Press Statement (2) by Karpal Singh in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 13th February 2009:

Call to banish Karpal from Perak has no legal basis

The call by the Kedah Royal Household Association to the Sultan of Perak that I should be banished from the State of Perak, apart from being mischievous, has no legal basis.

Under the Banishment Act, 1959 (Act 79), I cannot be banished form any state in the Federation of Malaysia. The Banishment Act, 1959 clearly states that it is an Act relating to the banishment and expulsion from Malaysia of persons other than citizens. Section 10 of the Act, clearly, states any person in respect of whom a banishment order that has been made can apply to the High Court for an order that the banishment order be set aside on the ground that he is a citizen and if it is proved on that application that the person is a citizen the High Court shall set aside the banishment order and direct that the applicant be set at liberty.

It is elementary that the government cannot revoke a citizenship of a person who is a citizen by operation of law. I am a citizen by operation of law on the ground I was born in Penang. The government can only revoke the citizenship of a person who has acquired citizenship by registration or naturalization.

I fail to understand those baying for my blood cannot understand the basic principles of law I have referred to. The Kedah Royal Household Association should have sought legal advice before making the call.

I started my legal career in Alor Star way back in 1696. I was elected assemblyman for Alor Star Bandar in 1974 and I know the Sultan of Kedah is a highly respected ruler, a gentleman and a ruler who commands the respect of all Malaysians. I have no doubt in my mind that the call that I be banished from the State of Perak does not have the blessing of the Sultan of Kedah in whose state I served as a assemblyman of the Kedah State Assembly.

I must make it clear I will not abdicate from my duties as a Member of Parliament in the public interest and raise issues which are of public importance without fear or favour.

I firmly stand by my opinion that the Sultan of Perak can be sued in court in his official capacity for having dismissed the Pakatan state government. The Sultan, clearly, acted ultra vires the provisions of the Constitution of the State of Perak. My opinion has the backing of senior lawyers and professors of law. I need only refer to the article ‘Legal turmoil over Perak defections’ appearing in the Star of 11th February, 2009 at page N43 by Dr Shad Faruqi, Professor of Law at UiTM which carries the following passages,

‘Opinion are being expressed that to defy the Sultan and to threaten to go to court for defence of one’s legal rights amount to treason and a ground for deprivation of citizenship. There are fundamental misunderstandings here.

From day one of Merdeka, the King and the Sultans were open to civil suit for their official actions. They were only immune personally. In 1993 even the personal immunity was taken away.

In sum it is not a violation of the Constitution to resort to the courts to seek an authoritative opinion on one’s rights and duties. Where else does one go, what else does one do, if one has a claim?

* Karpal Singh, DAP National Chairman & MP for Bukit Gelugor



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