Politics by Gangsterism — Haniff Khatri

It was with complete and utter disbelief that I read the news report on the demand made by member of parliament, N. Surendran, in which he calls for immediate discontinuance of any investigation by the police on the “seditious statement” uttered by Nurul Izzah during the debate on the King’s speech in Parliament on 10th March 2015.

Surendran alleged that any investigation would be an affront to the privilege granted to parliamentarians, and therefore contempt against the House if not stopped immediately.

This seems to be the latest way and style in which certain group of parliamentarians and politicians has been carrying out “politics of gangsterism”.

It is one thing to firstly conduct oneself in a manner so clearly in breach of the laws of the country, and then without any impunity to demand that the authorities have no right to investigate that conduct of theirs. It is nothing less than a self claiming right to be above the law.
One cannot be condemned to believe that these are the common plots in highly charged movies in which gangsters go about breaking each and every law in existence and then demand that everyone close their eyes to it.

This is exactly the position taken by MP Surendran, and this is the very definition of politics of gangsterism, which should have no place in the politics of our civilised democratic state.

If one decides to break the law, then one must be magnanimous enough to receive the brunt of punishment, if charged and found guilty! It is only a cowardly bullying gangster who will threaten the authorities to do nothing and shut up!

Why, one may ask, is MP Surendran completely wrong for his statement and his action falls into the category of “politics by gansterism”?

The answer is simply because under Article 63(4) of the Federal Constitution, whatever said by any parliamentarian in the House does not enjoy full immunity from any actions according to the law. Instead, there are two limbs in the provision, under which that a parliamentarian can be taken action against: first, if it amounts to an offence under any laws passed pursuant to Article 10(4), which when cross-referred, relates to laws passed pertaining to Articles 152, 153 and 181 of the Federal Constitution, vis-à-vis, the position of the national language, the privilege of the Malays and bumiputeras, and the sanctity of the rulers; and secondly, where MP Surendran has omitted to mention, if it amounts to an offence under Sedition Act 1948.

A reference to the Sedition Act will show that under section 3(1) therein, it is an offence to “bring into hatred or contempt or excite disaffection against the administration of justice.”

Surely, labelling five member panel of the Federal Court in the Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s appeal as “syaitan”, or devil, which, among most religions practiced here, is considered the evilest among all creations of God, must be caught by the provisions of section 3(1)(c) of the Sedition Act.

This must be very obvious even to a “kindergarten lawyer”.

To fight a cause honourably is to be magnanimous in accepting whatever action which may come under the valid laws of this country – which were passed by parliamentarians, that is. Otherwise, it is purely “politics by gangsterism”. – March 16, 2015.

*Haniff Khatri is a lawyer practising in Kota Damansara, Selangor.

**First published in The Malaysian Insider, 16 Mac 2015

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