The news today that the Attorney General has decided to discontinue the charges against all the 12 who were charged for supporting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is most welcome and certainly a sound one considering the fact that it cannot be said that any of the said 12 had committed ‘acts of terrorism’
In his Media Release, the AG said as follows, amongst others:
“24. A “terrorist act” is defined in Section 130B(2) of the Penal Code to mean an act or threat of action in Malaysia or elsewhere which meets one or more criteria in Section 130B(3) and which expressly does not fall within the exclusion provided in Section 130B(4). The criteria listed in Section 130B(3) make it clear that terrorist acts or threats of action are contemplated to be grave and serious in nature. Examples include acts that cause death(s) and the use of firearms and explosives. The exclusion provided in Section 130B(4), on the other hand, makes it clear that acts of advocacy, protest, dissent or industrial action which are not intended to cause death, serious injury or risk to public safety are not terrorist acts or threats of action. Simply put, peaceful acts are not terrorist acts.
- The exclusion provided by Section 130B(4) reflects Parliament’s recognition of fundamental constitutional rights, including the right to free speech and expression and the right to freedom of association and assembly. The dividing line between acts which are considered terrorist acts and acts which are not is the gravity of the act: if it causes or intends to cause death of another, it is a terrorist act. However, if it is merely a statement or protest, whether on the social media or otherwise, without threatening violence, it is not a terrorist act.
- It is commonplace to have idols to whom hero worship is displayed. It is not just pop stars, sportsmen or actors who are admired: historical personalities and politicians are often the subject of adoration. Thus, millions of people across the globe admire Lenin, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung or Che Guevara, and the like. Having their photos and other representations in one’s mobile phone or on a Facebook account does not transform one to being a terrorist. Just because each of these leaders used terror or violence to achieve their political goals does not mean that an ardent supporter online should be regarded as a terrorist or is planning a terrorist act.
- That is the common theme of all the 12 LTTE accused. Each of them had in his mobile phone or Facebook account photos of Prabhakaran and other leaders of LTTE slain during the Civil War in Sri Lanka. If such conduct can constitute a criminal offence, it would bring the law into disrepute. But even if there were elements of a “terrorist act” on the part of all or any of the 12 LTTE accused by possessing, distributing or displaying such photos or Prabhakaran, it would be impossible for the prosecution to establish that they do not fall within the excluded category of Section 130B(4) of the Penal Code in that they merely constitute “advocacy, protest or dissent.”
The above reflects the position accurately, namely that it would be near impossible for the prosecution to prove the charges against the said 12 persons, which is what the defence has been contending all along.
Acts of terrorism can surely never be condoned but the nature of the charges against the said 12 suggest they never committed any acts of terrorism.
The AG must be commended for having the courage to recognise the fact that the said charges are weak at best and to decide to discontinue proceedings against the said 12, which is entirely at his discretion.
Vocal Pakatan Harapan Ministers and MPs who voiced concern against the said charges on the principal ground that same do not disclose offences, such as Lim Kit Siang, Lim Guan Eng, Gobind Singh Deo, M. Kulasegaran and others must also be commended for their courage in voicing such concern as this is consistent with the rule of law.
The Prime Minister has said that the rule of law is of utmost importance and I am of the view that it has been observed in this case.
What needs to be done now is to produce all of the said 12 in court forthwith for the purpose of withdrawing the charges against them, after which they will be acquitted of the same and immediately released.
As the said charges are going to be withdrawn, I urge the AG to make the necessary arrangements for the said 12 to be produced in court this coming Monday for the said purpose.
There is no longer any reason to hold them any longer than is necessary.
Dated this 21st of February, 2020.
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
CHAIRMAN NATIONAL LEGAL BUREAU
DEMOCRATIC ACTION PARTY