In that shameful silence was Dr Mahathir’s failure to stand up
In 1995 Lim Guan Eng was arrested and charged by the police after he publicly criticized the government's handling of allegations of statutory rape against Abdul Rahim Tamby Chik, the former Chief Minister of Malacca.
Lim the Younger accused the government of 'double standards' in the statutory rape case, where the Attorney General, Mohtar Abdullah, decided not to prosecute Rahim Tamby Chik, but instead put the underaged alleged Muslim girl, a mere fifteen-year old schoolgirl, under 'protective custody'.
Lim was accused under the Sedition Act of prompting 'disaffection with the administration of justice in Malaysia'.
Compare Lim’s so-called ‘crime’ with the behaviour and public utterances of delegates to the recent UMNO general assembly. Even Marina Mahathir described the authorities' treatment of the girl as a 'mockery of justice' in comments published in an article.
Just to make sure Lim was nailed, he was additionally charged under the Printing Presses and Publications Act for 'maliciously printing' a pamphlet containing allegedly 'false information' specifically because he had used the term 'imprisoned victim' in reference to the alleged rape victim.
Amnesty International had this to say of Lim Guan Eng’s case:
The sedition charges against Lim Guan Eng, apart from being an apparent move to silence a leading critic, appear to be part of an established government strategy of selectively using repressive laws in prominent cases to engender a wider public reluctance to criticize the authorities.
A similar intimidatory stance was reflected in December 1996 when the government threatened to use the ISA against those seeking to organise an NGO forum to discuss alleged abuses of police powers. Threatened with detention without charge or trial, the organizers suspended the forum indefinitely.
Members of the government and ruling coalition have also publicly criticised those regarded as dissenters after questioning their patriotism. In December 1996 Prime Minister Mahathir accused some Malaysian NGOs of acting in collaboration with foreigners to undermine the countrys international reputation and described them as 'traitors' and 'leftists'.
Similarly in November 1996 in a parliamentary speech a senior UMNO parliamentarian accused Lim Guan Eng of being a 'traitor' because he had allegedly referred his case to the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) thereby 'damaging Malaysia's international image'.
Lim Guan Eng’s courage to stand up for the girl has been such a sterling example of courageous public service, especially for women, that parties like PAS, with too much focus on the grubby issue of sex and lust, could do well to emulate.
Instead of harassing and persecuting women with the inconsequential, PAS could do well to fight for their real dignity and justice, such as protecting them from oppression by abusive husbands and rapacious employers, rather than their nonsensical version of 'dignity' that demanded women to comply with PAS' narrow worldview of aping desert Arabs in dressing. In reality those dress codes masked PAS leadership’s misogynist persecution of womenfolk.
I pick on PAS for the reason I had expected it to be the main counterweight to UMNO, already a lost cause. Yet PAS has let us down miserably by straying into puerile issues.
Yes, there may be some good blokes and women in UMNO like the Johor Baru MP, Sharir, but they are far too few and fearful of speaking up, an when they did speak up, were pulverise into silence by the UMNO leadership.
But indeed the injustice to Lim Guan Eng must not be allowed to be forgotten. That he is from the DAP is coincidental and irrelevant.
If Dr Mahathir is truly committed to a new leaf of human rights value, then he should fight for Lim Guan Eng’s slate to be officially wiped clean, and for the abused Malay girl (a woman by now) to be properly compensated and apologised to.