National clemency movement to save the 13 condemned

Statement by DAP Organising Secretary, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a Press Conference in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, August 2, 1968 at 3.30 p.m. on the national clemency movement to save the 13 condemned

Hundreds of thousands of Malaysians feel a personal sorrow and grief when they learn of the rejection of the Tunku’s appeal for clemency on behalf of the 13 condemned youths by the Sultan of Johore and the Perak Pardons Board.

The hope the Tunku’s appeal for clemency had raised for the 13 condemned has now been snuffed out, as the authorities seem bent on a speedy execution of the 13 condemned.

There appears to be an indecent haste to carry out the executions before the Parliament meets on August 19.

This is a great tragedy, not only for the 13 youths, but for the Malaysian nation. The authorities seem determined to prove to the world that they are deaf to national and international appeals for mercy, and that we are a nation without compassion and humanity.

If a referendum is held now, we are convinced that the majority of Malaysians, of all races, religion and classes, will vote for the reprieve of the death sentence for the 13.

It has been said that justice should take its course. But it is justice that is being denied its course. For justice dictates that youths who were misled during their teens should be given another chance to reform. Justice further demands that when leaders like Inche Ahmad Boestaman, who had been described by an Alliance Minister in the Dewan Ra’ayat as having “conspired with enemies of the State”, are freed and even given scholarships to study law in England, pawns like the 13 youths who have committed a lesser offence should not get a heavier penalty.

It is obvious to observant Malaysians that it is the Mentri Besar of Johore who is responsible for the recent rejection of appeals.

The Sultan of Perak and the Perak Pardons Board would probably have pardoned the two youths, if not for the inflexible attitude of the Johore Mentri Besar.

One consideration which must have influenced the Board is that if the two youths are pardoned, after the rejection of the clemency plea for the 11 in Johore, a communal coloration will be injected into the issue.

The very fact that the Perak Pardons Board met for three hours showed that they had studied the issue at length.

We regret however, that the Perak Pardons Board had not been able to put humanity and compassion above all considerations.

The authorities have shown utter contempt and disregard for the deep wishes of the people.

We still pray that the authorities will be able to change their mind at the last minute.

Sponsors of the national signature campaign are considering various possibilities of trying to reach the authorities, and influence them to change their minds.

One way is for a national mercy march by Malaysians of all races and religion to Johore Bahru and Ipoh to petition for clemency, and allow the people to show the depth and intensity of their feelings.

We are fully aware that past demonstrations have gone out of control, and been misused. If a mercy march is launched, it must be orderly, peaceful and disciplined. Only those who subscribe to peaceful democratic means of public expression will be allowed to take part in the march. All participants will also have to subscribe to a code of conduct.

For such a mercy march to be successful, however, Malaysians of all races, religion and walk of life must respond.

Sponsors of the national campaign for mercy will be getting in touch with civic, trade union and political organisations to seek their views to consider ways to move the campaign onto another level of appeal.

We again pray that the authorities will heed public wishes.

The eyes of the world are watching us to see how we act on this issue. Let us show the world that we have the human feeling to forgive and care for fellow human beings.

Audited on 2021-04-05