The DAP always like to quote that Lim Guan Eng went to prison for a Malay family. Is this true or is it a urban legend that Guan Eng wants to perpetuate for political purposes. I am no lawyer lah but I did me some googling in the internet and found the written judgement of the Courts of Appeal in respect to Guan Eng versus the Public Prosecutor.
Guan Eng was charged in the High Court in 1994 was found guilty and was penalised with a fine, which he and the Public Prosecutor appealed to the Higher Courts of Appeal.
These are excerpts of the Judgement of the Courts of Appeal which detailed the Facts and Background of the case against Guan Eng which should enlighten readers and to make your own conclusion :
- These four appeals came before us on 1 April 1998. Two of them were by Lim Guan Eng whom we shall, throughout this judgment, refer to as ‘the appellant’.
The other two appeals were by the Public Prosecutor who complained that the sentence passed upon the appellant in respect of each proved offence was inadequate. Although the appeals by the Public Prosecutor were lodged in point of time, we decided to hear the appellant’s appeals first. Counsel for the appellant and the learned deputies who appeared for the respondent agreed to this course.
- The first of these was directed against the conviction and sentence on a charge under s 8A of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (‘the PPPA’).
- The second was directed against the conviction and sentence upon a charge under s 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1948.
- After carefully considering the arguments addressed to us, we dismissed the appellant’s appeal against conviction and sentence, but allowed the respondent’s cross-appeal. We set aside the sentence passed upon the appellant by the High Court on each charge. We then sentenced the appellant to 18 months’ imprisonment on each charge with effect from 1 April 1998, and ordered that these sentences do run concurrently. The reasons for our decision are as follows.FACTS AND BACKGROUND
- The appellant is the Member of Parliament for Kota Malacca. He is a prominent political figure whose views command much influence over the Malaysian public. He is, and was at all material times, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Democratic Action Party (‘DAP’), which is the political party that leads the opposition in Parliament. He is also the National Chairman of the DAP Youth. These are positions of some importance.
- Rahim Tamby Chik (‘Rahim’) was the former Chief Minister of the state of Malacca. He was charged with certain offences, the particulars of which are irrelevant for present purposes. However, the Public Prosecutor, after a consideration of the material before him came to the conclusion that there was inadequate evidence to proceed with the case against Rahim. Accordingly, the charges against Rahim were withdrawn and he was acquitted of them.
- The case against Rahim attracted much publicity in the print and the electronic media. Wide publicity was also given to the allegation that Rahim had had sexual relations with a girl below the age of 16 years. The truth of this allegation was never tested in a court of law. However, the Attorney General in his capacity of Public Prosecutor made a public statement to the effect that there was insufficient evidence to show that Rahim had committed any offence in relation to the girl in question.
- Although the girl’s name appears in the record of proceedings before us, we directed that it be not published. Henceforth, we will merely refer to her as ‘the minor’.
- The evidence available on record shows that the minor was at one point in time detained by the police. But she was not, according to her own evidence, placed in a lock-up. She was subsequently placed in protective custody pursuant to an interim order made by the magistrate’s court under s 8(2) of the Women and Girls Protection Act 1973. There was then an attempt by her grandmother to have her set at liberty. However, the habeas corpus proceedings instituted for that purpose failed, the minor having filed an affidavit stating that she did not wish to be removed from the protective custody in which she had been placed. After the dismissal of the habeas corpus application, a final order was made under s 8(4) of the aforesaid Act. We may add that this final order was made at the instance of the minor.
- The appellant was unhappy with these events. He asked questions about them in Parliament. He was given answers to these questions. But he was still dissatisfied.
- On or about 15 January 1995, there was published at his instance, 5,000 copies of a pamphlet (exhs P11 and P11B) which gave intimation of a gathering at the Emperor Hotel in the City of Malacca to be held on 19 January 1995. It was headed ‘ceramah kisah benar’ ('a gathering for a true story'[a]).
- One of the topics upon which speeches were to be made at the gathering in question was described by the pamphlet in the following words:
The Rahim Tamby Chik sex scandalWither justice and women’s rightsVictim imprisoned, criminal free.
- The words ‘Mangsa dipenjarakan’ (‘Victim imprisoned’) are the subject matter of the first charge against the appellant which alleged that these words amounted to false news that had been maliciously published by the appellant contrary to s 8A(1) of the PPPA.
- The gathering of which the pamphlet gave notice took place as scheduled. The appellant made a speech in which it is alleged that he said:
These two comments became the subject matter of the second charge against the appellant, the allegation being that he had committed sedition contrary to s 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1948.
- that he was dissatisfied with the laws of Malaysia because of the double standard which resulted in the rape case involving Rahim not being brought to court and the Attorney General had stated that Rahim was not involved in a rape case involving the minor; and
- that he was dissatisfied with the fact that the court had ordered the minor to be detained for three years whereas Rahim, who should have been imprisoned for violating the law, was instead set free.
- There were about 300 persons present at the gathering. A preponderance of them were of Malay community. Among those present were police officers assigned to monitor the gathering. They were PW2, 7, and 12. Mr. Yew Kok Kee (PW14), the publicity secretary for the Malacca DAP and a member of the Malacca State Assembly was also present. It was this witness who had applied for and obtained a permit from the police to hold the gathering.
- Later, a police report was lodged. Investigations commenced. At their conclusion, the appellant was charged with committing the offences of which we spoke of a moment ago.
- After a trial lasting several days, Mohd Noor Abdullah J, in a reserved decision delivered on 28 April 1997, found the appellant guilty on the first charge and sentenced him to a fine of RM10,000, in default six months’ imprisonment. On the second charge, the judge found the first comment not to have been proved. He, however, found that the appellant had committed an offence in respect of the second comment. He entered a conviction against the appellant upon the second charge and imposed a fine of RM5000, in default three months’ imprisonment.
- The appellant’s appeals are directed at both convictions and the sentences passed upon him.
The rest of the Written Judgement can be read here.
Anyway to cut a long story short, after a series of appeal Guan Eng was sent to jail for 18 months but was released after 12 months on 25 August 1999. I guess the rest is history.
So did Guan Eng went to jail for a Malay family?
As for me, from the facts of the case, I believe the Malay girl in question certainly did not need Guan Eng or her Grandmother to defend her, read para (7) above. Guan Eng went to jail because he broke the Law, he was found guilty to the charge of spreading false news and Sedition, read para (1),(11) and (12) above.
I leave it to readers to form their own conclusion.