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If Pak Lah wants people to be free to tell him the truth, then he should abolish anti-truth laws like the Sedition Act.


by Lim Guan Eng

(Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Wednesday): According to the Holy Books, only the truth shall set you free. Now to expect truth from BN politicians is to be asking too much, especially when they have “outlawed” truth. It is Malaysian law that truth is no protection from conviction for sedition cases.

The 1948 Sedition Act has been interpreted by Malaysian courts in such a harsh and broad manner that a conviction appears to the almost inevitable result of a prosecution. As stated by jurists on charges of sedition that violates the basic human rights of freedom of speech,

“It is clear from the jurisprudence that no defense lies in either: truth, lack of intention to offend, presence of an innocent or honourable intention, absence of consequent harm, or even in lack of possibility or potential for consequent harm.”

In my 1998 sedition case where I was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment in consequent of trying to defend an underaged Malay rape victim, the Malaysian Court of Appeal held that,

“It is immaterial whether or not the words complained of could have the effect of producing or did in fact produce any of the consequences enumerated in the section.  It is also immaterial whether the impugned words were true or false.”

In other words, truth has no currency or value in Malaysia. The law says so because BN has made it so. If Pak Lah wants people to be free to tell him the truth, then he should abolish anti-truth laws like the Sedition Act.

Tonight we have young bloggers, the future leaders of our country, telling us their hopes and aspirations for Pak Lah to do better so that the country can prosper can move forward. For that reason, I do not intend to expand on areas where Pak Lah has disappointed us such as his failure to live up to his hype as an anti-corruption fighter or his Mr Clean image when his own son and son-in-law has amassed wealth.

Or failing to pursue a moderate course in racial and religious matters until Malaysian are clearly divided into first and second-class citizens. Or refusing to back up his rhetoric of a forging a first-class mentality by abandoning the culture of mediocrity. For instance Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said creating an Asian chapter of the Unesco World Cultural and Natural Heritage centre would ensure more Asian sites could qualify, especially Penang and Melaka.

Just because Malaysia can not be awarded the world heritage site, Rais wants to change the rules and ask instead for an Asian list so that Malaysia can get in. What happened to our aspirations for world-class standards and first-class mentality? This is worse than Singapore’s kia-su. Remember though that aspirations without accomplishments are meaningless just as democracy without accountability is a complete mockery.

Refusing to face up to the truth is the reason why the government refuses to permit non-governmental statistics that contradicts and questions government statistics, especially in relation to the actual corporate equity held by bumis in the country. Using heavy-handed tactics to cover up independently verifiable research data is no different from those employed by Nazis during the Second World War. Let me read Professor Dr Lim Teck Ghee’s short resignation letter today,

“Since I cannot agree with President of ASLI Encik Mirzan Mahathir’s  statement, and because of the need to defend the position and integrity of independent and non-partisan scholarship, I regret to inform that I will be stepping down from my position as Director at the end of the month.

I hope the public space opened up by the Centre’s work on this particular, as well  as other important, issues will be expanded on and vigorously defended by others. It is the fundamental right of the Malaysian public to question all government statistics and policies, more so when these are not transparent or defensible.”

So whilst there is cause for despair at Pak Lah and his Ministers, it is individuals like Professor Dr Lim who inspire us to believe that Malaysians can aspire to excellence and integrity. I believe our young bloggers today would adopt the immortal words of St Francis of Assisi said,

"Where there is discord may we bring harmony, where there is error may we bring truth, where there is doubt may we bring faith, and where there is despair may we bring hope.”


* Lim Guan Eng,  Secretary-General of DAP

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