Thursday, September 22, 2011


HERE we have it again, the issue of whether a person deemed by the prosecutors to have commited an offence should be charged.

This time the person concerned is Mohamad Sabu, a.k.a. Mat Sabu, the Pas No. 2 who went on an adventure back into history about who's the good guy and who's the crook during the country's troubled times 61 years ago.

For picking out a certain Mat Indera as the hero instead of the 25 cops at the Bukit Kepong police station who were killed in a fire-fight, Mat has been charged with criminal defamation. Wrong call by the prosecutors?

Herein lies the dilemma. Countless reports were lodged with the police against Mat by all kinds of characters and NGOs. So the police had to investigate, right? Having completed this, the police must have concluded that Mat had committed an offence. Off the investigation papers went to the Attorney-General's Chambers, which decided that Mat had in fact done wrong. But this is not the end of the story because eventually it will be for the court to decide, whatever the opinions of the police and the AG.

This is how the system works in this country and a lot of people know this, certainly the legal trained.

But now some are saying that Mat should not be charged, especially since the prime minister had only very recently announced plans for more liberalisation and that after the ISA is repealed and replaced by other laws, no one would be punished solely for having dissenting political views. Correct but the PM was being specific about provisions in the new legislation. Other laws covering other offences will remain. Those questioning the wisdom of charging dear Mat must be able to draw a line somewhere. If they feel that what Mat said didn't deserve a charge, the way to go about it would be to ask that the law on this offence too be amended or repealed.

What everyone against the decision by the AG seems to have ignored is the need for the investigators and prosecutors to be truly independent, going about their work only guided by what the law says and provides for.

Using the political perspective to ask that someone is not charged only translates into interference in the work of the police and the prosecutors. Isn't this what many people don't like to see happen?