Statement by Parliament Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and National Chairman of the Campaign to Save 14-Year-Old Condemned at a Press Conference at DAP Kuala Lumpur promises, 63D Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur on Monday, 3rd October 1977 at 12 noon
At the request of the parents of the 14-year-old condemned DAP to await outcome of Privy Council appeal before launching a national signature campaign and international sympathy campaign to commute death sentence of the boy to a few years in a Reform School so as not to prejudge the Privy Council appeal
This is the third Press Conference that I have called in connection with the 14-year-old condemned, the first one on 10th September 1977 in Penang announcing the intention of the DAP to start a mass nation-wide signature campaign to get the boy out of the death cell in Penang Prisons pending appeal; the second one on 14th Sept. 1977 in Kuala Lumpur announcing the official launching of the mass nation-wide signature campaign to get the condemned boy out of the death cell. The response from the Government had been rapid, for the condemned boy was taken out of the death cell after the launching of the campaign on Sept. 14.
This third Press Conference was to announce the official launching of another nation0wide mass signature campaign to commute the death sentence of the condemned boy to a few years’ in a reform school, after the dismissal by the Federal Court last Saturday (1.10.1977) of the appeal by the condemned boy.
Proceedings has since been taken to appeal further to the Privy Council, by beating the deadline on Jan. 1, 1978, when all appeals to the Privy Council I would cease.
In view of the further appeal to the Privy Council, and after discussions with the presents of the condemned boy, and the boy’s counsel, Sdr. Karpal Singh, we have decided at the request of the parents to await the outcome of the Privy Council appeal before launching a nation-wide mass signature campaign and international sympathy campaign for the condemned boy, to commute the death sentence to a few years in reform school.
Any movement or campaign to seek a royal pardon from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong would be to prejudge the issue by affixing guilt on the condemned boy, and in effect, to declare that the condemned boy deserved fully the death sentence passed on him. It would seriously compromise and undermine the present appeal to the Privy Council to quash both the conviction and the sentence.
In the meantime, there is no question that the public respect for law has been seriously undermined, especially with the death sentence passed on a 14-year-old Form One pupil for unlawful possession of a pistol and ammunition, and the $1,500 fine imposed on former Deputy Minister, Dato Abdullah Ahmad, also for unlawful possession of a Browning automatic shotgun and ammunition.
The case of the 14-year-old condemned has highlighted the urgent and gravity of the need to repeal the Essential (Security Cases) Amendment Regulations 1975 which make it mandatory to pass a death sentence on a juvenile offender. As a result of this 14-year-old boy case, which has attracted adverse international publicity, people all over the world, whether in the United Kingdom, Europe, India, Australia or the United States, are asking what type of a society and country Malaysia has which sends 14-year-old to the hangman’s noose.
I welcome the mover by lawyers in the country to refuse to accept briefs for persons charged under the Internal Security Act and the Essential Regulations, for the Malaysian courts trying such cases are merely kangaroo courts, with the rules of evidence and procedure weighing heavily against the accused right from the start of the trial. The unanimous refusal by Malaysian lawyers to accept briefs of persons charged under Essential Regulations and the Internal Security Act should show to world opinion even more vividly about the repressive and retrogressive laws in the country.
Malaysians are concerned, not merely about the fate of the present 14-year-old condemned, but also other teenagers, other 14-year-old, or even of younger age, whether 13, 12, 11 or under 10 years, all of whom would have to be mandatorily sentenced to death under the same Regulations.
The Law Minister and Attorney-General, Tan Sri Kadir Yusof, has said that the case of the 14-year-old condemned has not been referred to him before it was committed to High Court under the international security act. Yet in Parliament on December 19, 1975, when I moved a motion to repeal the Essential Regulations, Tan Sri Kadir promised that he would take great care before sending a person to trial under the new regulations. On Oct. 8, 1975, he made a clear-cut pledge to the people of Malaysia: “I will personally scrutinize every case before any person is charged under these regulations.”
There are presently several boys pending trial under the Essential Regulations and the Internal Security Act, who on conviction, will be sent to the hangman’s noose.
The Attorney-General should immediately call up these cases and have then amended charged under other Acts, like the Firearms Act, which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years’ jail or $10,000 fine or both on conviction; or the Firearms (Increased Penalty Act 1971) which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years jail and a maximum of six strokes of the rotan.
This brings me to the signature campaign launched by the Penang MCA. The Chairman of Penang MCA is Mr. Lim Kean Siew, who is a lawyer of many years’ standing, and I do not think it would be necessary for me to explain to him that when appeal to Privy Council is still pending, it would be improper to prejudge the appeal outcome by launching a pardon campaign. *** In fact, Mr. Lim Kean Siew should know more law than I do.
I wish to make some further comments on the petition drafted by the Penang MCA. Should the Penang MCA get 100,000 signatures, which they claim to be the target, then it would mean: that they have achieved the following:
* SIGNATURE by 100,000 persons declaring that the 14-year-old boy is guilty of an offence for which the death sentence is a proper sentence;
* SIGNATURE by 100,000 persons declaring their belief that the 14-year-old boy is guilty and prejudging that he would also be found guilt at the Privy Council;
* SIGNATURE by 100,000 persons giving support to the present Essential (Security Cases) Regulations and the Internal Security Act which make it mandatory to send juveniles to the hangman but asking that in this particular case, a special exception be made. The net result will be that efforts by Malaysians of conscience to fight for the repeal of the Essential (Security Cases) Regulations will be determined.
* SIGNATURE by 100,000 persons asking for a royal pardon, which can be a life imprisonment for a 14-year-old boy, which is as bad as death.
I therefore ask Mr. Lim Kean Siew and the Penang MCA not to play politics with the life of not only one 14-year-old condemned, but also of other 14-year-old boys similarly charged, for any effort must be a broad-based one to save this 14-year-old condemned and all other such type of cases, involving the repeal of these Essential Regulations.