Malaysia

Prosecute Ibrahim Ali over bible-burning call, Bar Council urges

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
January 23, 2013

Authorities may opt to charge Ibrahim under the Sedition Act or Penal Code over the remarks, said Lim. — File picAuthorities may opt to charge Ibrahim under the Sedition Act or Penal Code over the remarks, said Lim. — File picKUALA LUMPUR, Jan 23 ― Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali should be charged under the Sedition Act for his remarks advocating the burning of bibles, Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee said today, backing an similar call by an opposition lawmaker.

Lim said that although the Bar maintains the law deemed a political weapon to silence dissent, should be repealed, it must be impartially applied against Ibrahim given that authorities have charged opposition leaders under the same Act.

“If sedition charges were brought against Karpal Singh, equally charges should also be brought against Ibrahim Ali ... Whilst the Bar calls for the repeal of the Sedition Act, if it were to be applied, it must be applied fairly and without discrimination.

“This incident together with the contemptuous statement by another Perkasa leader against a judge and the judiciary suggest that Perkasa is allowed to behave with impunity,” Lim said in a statement.

Karpal, who is DAP chairman and Bukit Gelugor MP, in on trial for sedition over remarks made pertaining to the Perak constitutional crisis in 2009, for which he was accused of making statements challenging the authority of the Sultan of Perak in dissolving the Perak state assembly.

He had earlier been acquitted of the charge by the High Court in 2010, but the Court of Appeal subsequently ordered him to enter his defence upon a successful appeal brought by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

 Lim added that if the authorities do not wish to charge Ibrahim under the Sedition Act, the Penal Code may also be applied on the Perkasa chief.

“This statement by Ibrahim is an incitement or abetment to commit criminal offence under Section 107 of the Penal Code, whilst the seizure and burning of bibles is an offence under Section 441 of the Penal Code,” he said.

Section 441 of the Penal Code states that “Whoever enters unto or upon property in the possession of another with intent to commit an offence or to intimidate, insult or annoy any person in possession of such property; or having lawfully entered into or upon such property, unlawfully remains there with intent thereby to intimidate, insult or annoy any such person, or with intent to commit an offence, is said to commit ‘criminal trespass’.”

“The public must be warned that this is probably a criminal offence,” Lim said.

Yesterday, Karpal lodged a police report pressing Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail to initiate police investigations against Ibrahim over his alleged statement calling for Muslims to “seize and burn copies of bibles which contained the word ‘Allah’ or other Arabic words”.

Karpal’s police complaint was made in response to the A-G’s reported comment that prosecutors would only act against Ibrahim if bibles were actually burnt, and that he was not concerned by the remarks.

The DAP chairman said in his police report that he planned to go to court to compel Abdul Gani to take action and “carry out his public duty” if the A-G refuses to take action against the Perkasa president within the next two weeks.

Perkasa said in a statement on Monday that Ibrahim’s statement on the matter had been misinterpreted as he had merely been referring to Malay-language bibles.

“I confirm that the Perkasa president did mention the words ‘burn the Bible’ but he did not mean the original English-language books.

“He meant the Malay-language bibles that use ‘Allah’ and Jawi writing,” said the group’s secretary-general Syed Hassan Syed Ali.