Abdullah setting bad and dangerous precedent in publicly pressurizing Attorney-General to charge Karpal for sedition and turn a legal issue into a political and racial one
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is setting a bad and dangerous precedent in publicly pressurizing the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Gani Patail to charge DAP National Chairman and MP for Bukit Gelugor, Karpal Singh for sedition and turn a legal issue into a political and racial one.
This is the first time in 50 years that a Prime Minister had so flagrantly and blatantly put public pressure on the Attorney-General to prosecute an Opposition leader, making a total mockery of the absolute discretion of the Attorney-General as entrenched in Article 145(3) of the Constitution “to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence, other than proceedings before a Syariah Court, a native court or a court-martial”.
On Thursday, Abdullah said he had instructed UMNO secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor to lodge a police report against Karpal for making allegedly seditious remarks about the Sultan of Perak when Karpal had reiterated publicly that he had not questioned Sultan Azlan Shah’s prerogatives as the state’s head of religion of Islam.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister has upped the ante by publicly demanding that the Attorney-General to speed up the probe against Karpal.
Abdullah has never shown interest or concern as Prime Minister about high-profile cases, whether police reports previously made against Cabinet Ministers or recently against UMNO for the series of seditious conducts against the Malay Rulers after the March 8 general election over the appointment of the Terengganu Mentri Besar.
Abdullah should have used his high office to end the controversy which arose from the distortion of Karpal’s raising of a legal principle established by the case of Federal Territory Education Director and others vs Loot Ting Yee about the transfer of federal and state civil servants into a challenge of the prerogative of Sultan Azlan Shah over matters pertaining to Islam and Malay custom.
The country is trying to come out of the “judicial darkness” which it had been plunged into for two decades as a result of the series of crises of confidence and credibility in the independence, impartiality and integrity of the system of justice – not just about the judiciary but also other important players especially the Attorney-General.
The Prime Minister’s public and persistent demand for action to be taken against Karpal by the Attorney-General does not create confidence that the present administration is fully committed to end the two-decade-long “judicial darkness” in the country by allowing all the major stakeholders in the system of justice their full and unfettered independence and impartiality - whether judges or the Attorney-General.