Ramkarpal questions judges’ silence in face of meddling claim over dad’s sedition conviction

A. Ruban
Ramkarpal said the panel's silence reflects 'a serious decay in the judiciary'. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 31 — The son of the late Karpal Singh said today it was damning for a panel of judges to maintain its silence for 10 whole days after being implicated in a judicial interference scandal over his father’s sedition case.

Lawyer Ramkarpal Singh, who also inherited the Bukit Gelugor parliamentary constituency from Karpal, said their silence reflects “a serious decay in the judiciary”, which he stressed must not be allowed to continue under the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.

“It is shocking that to date, there has been no response from the judiciary by way of an official statement denying, condemning or at least promising an investigation into Hanif’s allegation,” he said in a statement.

Ramkarpal was referring to fellow lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, who claimed there was judicial interference in the 2016 appeal against Karpal’s conviction for sedition.

The DAP federal lawmaker also said any attempt by the judiciary or the said judges to clear the air now would be construed as “an obvious afterthought and would not be worth the paper on which it is written on”.

Given this, he supported the call for a Royal Commission Inquiry (RCI) to investigate the claim.

“The senior judge implicated in this allegation (if found to be true) must be severely disciplined and publicly shamed for tarnishing the very institution he/she was entrusted to protect, regardless of whether he/she is still in service,” he added in the statement.

The PH backbencher also challenged the PH government to establish the RCI immediately to show its sincerity in its efforts towards institutional reforms.

The High Court had found Karpal, a former lawyer and legislator, guilty of sedition for questioning the power of then Perak Ruler Sultan Azlan Shah’s removal of then mentri besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin from office, resulting in what came to be known as the Perak constitutional crisis of 2009.

The High Court convicted Karpal of sedition and sentenced him to a RM4,000 fine in February 2014.

On May 30, 2016, his conviction was upheld by a three-judge panel in the Court of Appeal; Datuk Wira Mohtaruddin Baki and Kamardin Hashim upheld the conviction while Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat held a dissenting view.

But the panel also reduced Karpal’s RM4,000 fine to RM1,800, effectively reversing his disqualification as an MP and allowing his widow to collect his pension.

Mohd Haniff, meanwhile, said he has given his statement to the police on the matter yesterday.

He said he did not tell investigators the identity of the person whom he cited in his claim as he felt that a royal commission of inquiry was the only forum where this information should surface.

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