Karpal to vacate Bukit Gelugor parliamentary seat after RM4,000 fine in sedition case
DAP chairman Karpal Singh has to vacate his Bukit Gelugor parliamentary seat after he was fined RM4,000 after being found guilty of sedition today.
Under the Federal Constitution, an elected representative is disqualified from office if fined more than RM2,000 or jailed for a term exceeding one year.
The wheelchair-bound veteran lawyer is the second top Pakatan Rakyat leader to have been found guilty and sentenced in the past week after opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was jailed on Friday for sodomy.
Karpal will appeal the conviction and sentence to the Court of Appeal.
He was said to have uttered seditious words against the Sultan of Perak at the height of the constitutional crisis in the state in 2009.
In an immediate response, Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) expressed shock and concern over the decision, maintaining that making political or critical comments was not a crime.
"This is especially so in Karpal's case as he was merely giving his legal opinion on the 2009 constitutional crisis in Perak and under no circumstances could it be described as seditious," said LFL executive director Eric Paulsen.
"Karpal’s sentence today, following Anwar's five-year jail term and (Batu MP) Tian Chua’s one-month imprisonment sentence clearly show that the government is embarking on political persecution and underhanded tactics as strategies to undermine its political adversaries."
In the statement, Paulsen added that under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's administration, the abuse of the sedition law has reached a shocking and unprecedented level with pending charges against a host of personalities, including Tamrin Ghafar, Haris Ibrahim, Safwan Anang, Adam Adli and Hishamuddin Rais.
"The continuous use of the sedition law goes to show that Najib’s words have no value since he has repeatedly broken the promise he had made on July 11, 2012, when he announced that the Sedition Act would be abolished," he added.
Earlier in court, lawyer Gobind Singh, in mitigating for a lighter sentence, urged the judge that Karpal be bound over instead of being sent to jail or slapped with a heavy fine.
"He should not be punished with a jail term or fine as what he did was clearly within his duties as an MP and a lawyer on grounds of public interest.
"The court must also take into account the fine because he is an MP. He will lose his position if is fined RM2,000 and jailed one year," said Gobind in mitigation.
DPP Noorin Badaruddin argued that a deterrent sentence, including a jail term, must be imposed.
She said what Karpal did would influence others to despise the royal institution and the Malay rulers.
"He gave a firm and stern warning to Sultan Azlan Shah.
"Although he has 45 years' experience as lawyer, it is not a mitigating factor.
"As MP he is also a public figure and a role model," she told the court. – March 11, 2014.