Resolution adopted without a vote by the Inter-Parliamentary Council
at its 163rd session (Moscow, 12 September 1998)

The Inter-Parliamentary Council,

Referring to the outline of the case, as contained in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/163/12(a)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 162nd session (April 1998) concerning the case of Mr. Lim Guan Eng, a member of the House of Representatives of Malaysia,

Taking account of the information supplied by the Malaysian delegation at the hearing held on the occasion of the 100th Inter-Parliamentary Conference (Moscow, September 1998), together with the letters from the Speaker of the House of Representatives dated 15 May and 19 August 1998,

Further taking account of the information supplied by the sources on 15 and 28 May, 29 June, 27 July and 13, 21 and 25 August 1998,

Recalling that, on 28 February 1995, Mr. Lim Guan Eng was accused of prompting " disaffection with the administration of justice in Malaysia " for having stated that " double standards " were being applied by the Attorney General in a statutory rape case against the former Chief Minister of Malacca, Mr. Rahim Tamby Chik, because Attorney General Mohtar Abdulla had decided not to prosecute the latter, while the underaged alleged victim, a fifteen-year-old Muslim schoolgirl, was placed in the custody of a welfare home for three years; recalling also that the girl admitted having had a sexual relationship with the Minister and a number of other men who were subsequently prosecuted,

Recalling that, on 17 March 1995, Mr. Lim Guan Eng was accused of maliciously printing a pamphlet containing allegedly " false information ", specifically because he had used the term " imprisoned victim " in reference to the rape victim,

Recalling that the case aroused considerable public disquiet and criticism including from the Prime Minister's daughter herself, who in a newspaper article published in November 1994 under the title " Whither Justice " described the authorities' treatment of the girl as a " gross mockery of justice ",

Recalling also that Mr. Lim Guan Eng was sentenced, on 28 April 1997, under Section 4 (1)(b) of the Sedition Act for prompting " disaffection with the administration of justice in Malaysia " to the maximum fine of RM 5,000 and, under Section 8 A(1) of the Printing and Publications Act, for maliciously printing a pamphlet containing " false information ", to a fine of RM 10,000; that, on 1 April 1998, the Appeal Court dismissed Mr. Lim Guan Eng's appeal and imposed the two concurrent 18-month prison terms sought by the prosecution,

Considering that, in his discussion of the second charge (sedition) and the sentence handed down on Mr. Lim Guan Eng, appeal court judge Gopal Sri Ram concluded that " to allege double standards against the Public Prosecutor in deciding which cases ought to be brought before the courts amounts to denigrating and undermining the administration of criminal justice ",

Pointing out that, according to the sources, on 6 April 1998 Prime Minister Mahathir publicly defended the 18-month jail term handed down on Mr. Lim Guan Eng; that the sources expressed the view that this made it difficult for the Federal Court fairly and independently to exercise its judicial jurisdiction in Mr. Lim Guan Eng's appeal case, in particular given that the " Yang di Pertuan Agong ", the constitutional body competent to make all judicial appointments including those of the Federal Court judges, has to act on the Prime Minister's recommendations,

Considering that, on 25 August 1998, the Federal Court upheld the appeal court judgment; that despite the request of Mr. Lim Guan Eng's counsel that, having regard to the fact that a three-judge bench heard Mr. Lim Guan Eng's appeal, the Federal Court be composed of at least five judges, only three judges composed that Court; that immediately after the verdict Mr. Lim Guan Eng was taken to Kajang prison, where he is serving the sentence,

Considering that, under Malaysian law, an MP forfeits his/her parliamentary mandate if convicted by a court of law in last instance and sentenced to a prison term of not less than one year or to a fine of not less than RM 2,000; that, according to information supplied by the Malaysian delegation to the 100th Inter-Parliamentary Conference (September 1998), an MP forfeits his/her mandate as of the date of final conviction. An appeal to the King can be lodged within 14 days following delivery of the final judgment. Such pardon may be full, giving the MP a clean slate and thus allowing him/her to retain his/her seat. However, there is no deadline for a decision to be taken on an appeal for pardon. Moreover, owing to his conviction, Mr. Lim Guan Eng will be prevented for five years from standing for election, which rules him out of the forthcoming election in 2000,

Considering that, according to the delegation of the Malaysian Parliament to the 100th Inter-Parliamentary Conference, an opposition MP has lodged such an appeal for pardon,

Recalling that, in the resolution it adopted on the occasion of the 99th Inter-Parliamentary Conference (April 1998), it entrusted the Committee with an on-site mission, for which the Malaysian delegation had expressed support; considering, however, that the Speaker of the House of Representatives had stated that it would be difficult for him or indeed anyone else " to assist the IPU Committee in their work " and advanced the sub judice and contempt-of-court rule; that the mission could therefore not go ahead,

Considering that, at the hearing held at the Moscow Conference, the Malaysian delegation stated that the Committee would be most welcome in Malaysia and not restricted as to whom it met,

  1. Thanks the Malaysian delegation for its co-operation and the information it has provided;
  2. Is shocked at the decision of the Federal Court to uphold the judgment of the Appeal Court resulting in the forfeiture of Mr. Lim Guan Eng's parliamentary mandate;
  3. Can but reiterate its conviction that, in making the offending statements, Mr. Lim Guan Eng was merely exercising his right to freedom of speech and his function of oversight of the Executive, which must include inquiring into and, if deemed necessary, criticising the administration of justice;
  4. Is deeply concerned at the harshness of the judgment and the limits it sets on freedom of speech and on the right and duty of the elected representatives of the people to exercise their essential function of oversight of the Executive;
  5. Reaffirms that in discharging their oversight function, Parliaments help to ensure the independent and impartial functioning of justice;
  6. Notes that, according to the Malaysian delegation, the Governor - by delegation of authority of the King - may grant Mr. Lim Guan Eng full pardon, giving him a clean slate and enabling him to retain his parliamentary seat; notes that, according to the Malaysian delegation, such an appeal has been lodged by an opposition MP; and requests the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to act in support of that appeal;
  7. Requests the Committee to proceed with the mission it had entrusted to it at its 162nd session in Windhoek in April 1998, and notes with satisfaction the statement of the Malaysian delegation that such a mission would be most welcome;
  8. Requests the Secretary General to convey this decision to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and to the leader of the Malaysian delegation, inviting them to ensure that the mission of the Committee can be received in Malaysia in the very near future;
  9. Requests the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to continue examining the case and report to it at its next session (April 1999).

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