Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad held a press conference today in response to Khairuddin Abu Hassan and Matthias Chang being charged in court under Section 124L of the Penal Code. They had both earlier been detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012.
Dr Mahathir said that this is an abuse and disrespect of the law and the only crime that the two committed was to tell the truth. It has not been established yet whether what Khairuddin and Matthias said is the truth so let the trial determine this. Anyway, Dr Mahathir of all people should know that the truth is subjective and just because one tells the truth that does not mean one has not broken any laws.
Dr Mahathir must be reminded of many cases during his time when people who told the truth were arrested, charged and convicted for the crime of telling the truth. For example, Marina Yusoff was convicted and sentenced under the Sedition Act in 2000 for telling the truth and the judge ruled that just because she told the truth does not mean she is not guilty of a crime. Under the Sedition Act, telling the truth can actually get you jailed, the court reminded the defence.
At least Khairuddin and Matthias are being allowed a trial where they can defend themselves and if they are not guilty will be freed. During Dr Mahathir’s term as Prime Minister he used the Internal Security Act on dissidents and critics of the government where there was no trial. In 2001, ten of Anwar Ibrahim’s supporters were detained without trial on allegations that they were terrorists. Six were made to serve two years under detention and the court later ruled that they were not terrorists and that their detention was illegal.