‘Aye’ to observer at Karpal’s sedition trial

(NST) – KUALA LUMPUR: An international organisation of lawyers will be participating in the sedition trial of opposition member of parliament Karpal Singh, scheduled to start in two weeks.

The High Court yesterday allowed LawAsia to send a representative to hold a watching brief at the trial, following its application made through the Malaysian Bar.

LawAsia (the Law Association for Asia and the Pacific) is an international organisation of lawyers' associations, individual lawyers, judges, legal academics and others, which focuses on the interests and concerns of the legal profession in Asia-Pacific.

The representative is, however, not allowed to make submissions at the trial.

Karpal Singh, 69, the MP for Bukit Gelugor and DAP chairman, was charged in March with uttering seditious words in relation to the sultan of Perak, at a press conference held at his law firm here between noon and 12.30pm on Feb 6.

The trial is fixed for Aug 12.

Judicial commissioner Azman Abdullah granted the application after he called the prosecution and the defence team to hear their views.

"I called up the case for mention to find out if any party had objections to LawAsia holding a watching brief at the trial," said Azman, adding that LawAsia had written two letters to the Malaysian Bar about its interest and the council had submitted the letters to the High Court on June 30 and July 9.

"But no copy were forwarded to the prosecution. I believe both sides should be informed of the matter," he said.

The second letter was attached with the curriculum vitae of Jeffrey Miles, a former Australian judge, who is also a former chief judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory.

Azman said there would be a representative from the Bar at the hearing and a representative from LawAsia should not be a problem.

However, he said if LawAsia wanted to attend the trial it should write to the court.

Gobind Singh Deo, who appeared for Karpal, said the defence team had no objection to LawAsia's request.

Senior federal counsel Datuk Kamaluddin Md Said objected to Miles holding a watching brief because the council had a representative at the trial.

Lawyer P. Anand appeared for the council.

Gobind later said that Karpal, who was not present in court, had been admitted to Kuala Lumpur Hospital for observation and tests because of fever.