Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Karpal sedition trial: Reporter ‘unsure’

KUALA LUMPUR: A witness told the High Court here that he was not sure if during a media conference, DAP chairman Karpal Singh had actually uttered the words that a Ruler could be sued for his role in removing a mentri besar from office.

Utusan Malaysia reporter Mohd Nizam Mohamad Yatim, 38, who took the witness stand on the first day of Karpal’s sedition trial, said this during cross-examination by lead defence counsel Jagdeep Singh Deo.

“After the press statement was read by Karpal Singh, there was an answer and question session. A reporter asked if ‘legal action’ included suing the Sultan, and Karpal Singh said ‘yes’,” said Mohd Nizam when relating the events at the media conference.

When asked who the reporter was, Mohd Nizam replied he was “not sure.”

When Jagdeep pointed out that it was that reporter who asked Karpal to sue the Sultan of Perak, Mohd Nizam replied that the reporter was just asking for a clarification.

Jagdeep: “So it does not say that Karpal Singh had said he would sue the Sultan of Perak?”

Mohd Nizam: “I am not sure.”

Karpal is alleged to have uttered seditious words during a media conference relating to the Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah’s consent to remove Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as mentri besar.

He allegedly committed the offence at his law firm Messrs Karpal Singh & Co between noon and 12.30pm on Feb 6. He is charged under Section 4 (1) (b) of the Sedition Act 1948.

During the trial, Jagdeep grilled Mohd Nizam and even raised his voice, causing DPP Datuk Kamaluddin Md Said to interject and remind the defence counsel not to shout at the witness.

At one point, Mohd Nizam drew incredulous laughter when he said that he did not know what Karpal was being charged with.

Jagdeep accused Mohd Nizam of being “insincere” when the witness said he “only reports what was said” and does not give opinions in his article.

Mohd Nizam said he wrote two stories based on the press statement and the media conference, but only one of his stories was published on Feb 7. The second article about whether a Ruler can be sued was picked up by Bernama, the national news agency.

Jagdeep asked Mohd Nizam to read the press statement, which was in English, and explain to the court the meaning of it in Bahasa Malaysia.

Jagdeep: “Does the term ‘ultra vires’ mean ‘to insult’? Is that correct?”

Mohd Nizam: “Correct. That is what I understand. But I did not use it in my story.”

Jagdeep: “Do you know that your understanding of the term is wrong? Do you realise that your article caused a lot of chaos?”

Mohd Nizam: “That is not my article. It is Bernama’s article.”

When questioned by Jagdeep if the press statement was about constitutional issues, Mohd Nizam answered yes.

“So you would agree that Karpal Singh’s statement does not in anyway seem a threat or intimidation of the Sultan of Perak?” Jagdeep said.

“I agree,” said Mohd Nizam.

Jagdeep summarised that based on the testimony of the witness, the statement by the accused was only a firm reminder to the Sultan of Perak to act within the parameters of the Constitution.

The trial was adjourned to Thursday afternoon because the next witness, an RTM reporter, failed to turn up in court.

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