Guess how many police reports have been filed against Karpal Singh for his plan to sue the Sultan of Perak?
To remind all, there is a huge dispute in the way the state government of Perak was transferred from Pakatan Rakyat to Barisan Nasional earlier this month. I will not go into the details and speak legalese since I lack the skill to do so. Suffice to say, Karpal Singh insists that the method is unconstitutional and I at the moment tend to agree with him. I myself prefer a vote of no confidence to formally prove any lack of confidence against the Pakatan government. Calling for the vote would settle a lot of issues as civil as possible.
Returning to the question, at the time of airing of Bulletin Utama on TV3 — drum roll please — 27 reports. Watching TV3 is always an angering experience since its so-called news borders outright lies and manipulation. But I want to know what both sides are thinking and I have to brave through the horrible minutes to obtain that knowledge. Not a pinch but a handful of salt has to be close by while watching and listening to TV3.
According to the news presented on Bulletin Utama in its typical propagandist fashion, Karpal Singh at the moment is being investigated under Sedition Act.
I may have been wrong when I suggested that the infatuation with the monarchy is coming to an end. I may be right if the statement is constrained to a certain section of the society but on the whole, it is quite hard to say if the monarchy is becoming more popular or less. One thing is certain, the monarchy as been used as a political vehicle by all sides.
The episode in the usually charming little Kuala Kangsar involving the firing of tear gas by the police to a protesting crowd suggests a conclusion which sits exactly opposite to the conclusion of various UMNO-related rallies in various places as aired on TV3. It cannot be ignored however that with UMNO’s effective control of the mainstream media, these pro-monarchy rallies may not as big as it was reported.
In any case, groups especially the one aligning to Barisan Nasional are trying to place the monarchy even higher than individuals and groups leaning toward Pakatan Rakyat had proposed earlier. Through the BN-aligned groups’ action against Karpal Singh, they are trying to grant the monarchy immunity. If they are successful in using an arm of the state to convict the DAP man under the Sedition Act, we would effectively have lÃ¨se majestÃ© law.
That is unacceptable. Nobody is supposed to be above the law.
This is even greater than the immunity suggested by Parti Keadilan Rakyat during its pow-wow not too long ago and therefore, worse in terms of violating the spirit of equality before the law. For PKR at least, they were willing to bent back after being criticized though the bending seemed less than honest to me. Honest or not, the feedback mechanism works to some extend.
Unlike PKR however, the groups filing reports against Karpal Singh are unlikely to bow to any criticism. These are groups with strong direct ties to the pre-March 8 culture. Besides, these groups claim to fight for the Malays and that also means standing behind the monarchy. If they were to back down from supporting the monarchy, they would lose their raison d’Ãªtre.
Effort by the UMNO-backed groups filing police reports against Karpal Singh is even more worrying given the fact that in the past, the subsequent processes had been manipulated to tilt the result. Furthermore, if the groups are successful in bringing the system to convict Karpal Singh, that would take us a step closer to undo one good structural legacy of the Mahathir administration.
While former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed has caused many wrong weakening of public institutions to overly strengtened the executive, one of few good structural changes he brought upon to this country is the removal of the immunity of the monarchy. He made true of the phrase nobody is above the law by making the monarchy accountable to rule of law.
The court is and has to be the final arbitrator and Mahathir made that possible.
At the same time, it is clear that the dispute regarding the change of state government in Perak is a constitutional matter. Such matter can only be addressed in the court of law. Outcomes from the courts can then be used as reference, making the likelihood of future disputes lower than what it currently is. The application of the Sedition Act to prevent effort to bring the matter to the court does nothing other than sweeping the dust under the carpet.
For the UMNO-backed group, they do not realize this because as always typical with emotional overly sensitive communal groups, they are unable to see very far ahead.