Call on all ISA condemned families to urgently contact the DAP so that a national campaign to save the lives of the condemned could be launched

Press Conference Statement by DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at PJ DAP Headquarters on Friday, August 13, 1982 at 2 p.m.

Call on all ISA condemned families to urgently contact the DAP so that a national campaign to save the lives of the condemned could be launched

The Kuala Lumpur High Court yesterday struck off the application on behalf of five ISA condemned convicts for a stay of execution of the mandatory death penalty, dismissing the argument that the mandatory death sentence is unconstitutional.

The next and final resort for the five ISA condemned is to appeal to the Federal Court. Once the Federal Court decides on the appeal, then there is no more legal remedy whatsoever.

If the Federal Court upholds the appeal, then the ISA condemned convicts have still time to fight for their lives. But if the Federal Court dismisses the appeal, then the Government can proceed straightaway to execute the ISA death penalties, for there could be no further appeal to the Privy Council.

Time is very limited, and most the ISA condemned convicts may have one or two months to seek all possible avenues to urge on the Government to reprieve the ISA condemned convicts to commute their death sentence to life imprisonment.

This is why on August 2, I called on all ISA condemned families, numbering over 40, to contact the DAP urgently, so that we could have all the necessary particulars to prepare a national campaign to mobilise public support to appeal to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to commute the death sentences to life imprisonment.

So far, apart from the families of the eight ISA condemned convicts who attended the August 2 Press Conference, we have not been contacted by any other families. As a result, we have not been able to take the second step to launch a national campaign to save the lives of the 40-odd ISA condemned convicts.

In view of the High Court’s judgment yesterday dismissing the ‘stay of execution’ application, I call on the other over 30 families of ISA condemned convicts to contact Sdr. Karpal Singh, DAP Vice Chairman and MP for Jelutong, or any other DAP official in their state urgently, to furnish us with all the necessary particulars so that no more time is lost to try to save the lives of the ISA condemned convicts.

We will not be able to proceed with the campaign unless there is response from all the ISA condemned convict families.

In the meantime, I reiterate my call on the Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamed that until the Federal Court had adjudged on the appeal of the five ISA condemned convicts against the High Court decision yesterday, the government should order a total stay of all executions of ISA condemned convicts.

I would also urge on the Prime Minister to recommend to the Pardons Board for the commutation of the death penalties of the ISA convicts who had not taken or injured the lives of another human being into life imprisonment on the occasion of the 25th National Day celebrations on August 31.

Call on the police not to take sides on a private copyrights dispute on Hong Kong videotapes, and to halt all raids and seizures of video-tape dealers until the outcome of a long-standing test case in the courts

I have received complaints by the video-tape dealers through the Video-Tape Dealers Association of Malaysia of a spate of police raids and seizures against video-tape dealers as a result of a private copyrights dispute between Golden Star Video Berhad and the video-tape dealers about copyright infringements in connection with video-tapes produced by two Hong Kong companies, namely, Rediffusion Television Limited (“RTV”) and HK-TVB International Limited (“TVBL”).

I understand that since January 1981, over 20 video-tape dealers had been raided. At the average, over 1,000 video-tape cassettes are seized, and there had been cause where this figure had exceeded 3,000 cassettes. Video-tape cassette recorders as well as television sets had also been carted away.

This would mean a loss of at least $30,000 for 1,000 video-tape cassettes seized, for every video-tape dealer raided, while some suffer losses $100,000.

Recently, the police have stepped up its spate of raids into a daily occurrence, causing even greater losses to the video-tape dealers in the country, and fear to the so over 600 video-dealers in the country.

I call on the police not to take sides on what is basically a private copyrights dispute on the Hong Kong video-tapes, and to halt all police raids and seizures of video-tape dealers until the outcome of a long-standing test case on the matter in the courts.

At least eight video-tape dealers had been charged in the courts for infringements of copyrights, and although video-tape dealers were pressing for early trial, the cases – the first of its kind which would determine whether there had in fact been any infringement of copyrights – had been postponed repeatedly since January last year.

It is most improper for the police to continue to conduct raids and seizures of video-tape dealers on behalf of Golden Star Video Bhd. Especially as the Courts, in the first test-case of this kind, had to decide whether there had been any infringement in the first instance.

This is not a simple case, but full of legal complexities on a subject like copyright. The Video-Tape Dealers Association had gone to great legal expenses to seek legal advice and opinion, and from two legal opinions by Queen’s Counsel in the United Kingdom particularly knowledgeable about Copyrights Law, the video-tape dealers were advised that Golden Star Video Bhd. are not the copyright owners, and that they had therefore not infringed any copyrights under the Malaysian Copyrights Act 1969.

The police should allow the Courts to decide first whether there had been any copyright infringements with regard to the Hong Kong video-tapes, instead of intensifying the raids and seizures which are calculated to help Golden Star Video Bhd. to bring the video-tape dealers to their knees and submit to Golden Star Video Bhd.’s demands.

Surely the police, at a time when it claims to be so short-handed in the face of increase in serious crimes in the country, have more important things to do then to deploy much-needed police personnel to raid video-tape shops, and check off the thousands and thousands of video-tape cassettes. Surely, the police must have a proper sense of priorities – to know what is right and wrong what is right and wrong, what is proper and improper!

If the police continues to conduct the raid and seizures when the Courts have not handed down a single judgement on the matter, then the police will only have itself to blame if it is held in suspicion as helping the wealthy and powerful to bully the weak and small, for there is no doubt that in this case, Golden Star Video Bhd. represent the wealthy and powerful while the 600 odd video dealers strewn throughout the country are the weak and small.

The Golden Star Video Bhd. wants each video-tape dealer to pay $8,000 as licence fee for this year to show the Hong Kong video tape, which would net it over $5 million from the over 600 video-tape dealers. The sufferers would not only be the dealers, but also the consumers, who would have the bear this additional expense.

The Copyrights Act 1969, amended in 1979, was passed by Parliament to protect Malaysian writers, artists and local copyright owners, and not to enable some big capitalist to fleece the Malaysian public.

In fact, Section 16(1) of the Copyrights Act provides for government intervention if a rightful copyright owner ‘imposes unreasonable terms or conditions on the granting of such licences’. What has the Ministry of Trade and Industry, which is in charge of overseeing the operation of the Copyrights Act done to protect the rights of the Malaysian public?

I hope that the Malaysian Police would conduct itself with propriety and fairness in this case, and await the outcome of the test case in the Courts before further action. Meanwhile, the raid of the video-tape dealers should stop altogether.

There have also been complaints that in the raid and seizure of the video-tape dealers, there had been gross abuse of power. For instance, there had been indiscriminate seizure of video-tape cassettes as the video-dealer was not informed of the cassettes which the police are authorised to search and seize. In another case, the police entered and searched and seized property in different addresses from that given in the search warrant. All this must stop if the police are not to be regarded as operating at the behest of the Rich and Powerful against the weak and small.