Utusan reporter says he thought ultra vires means ‘to insult’


By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani, The Malaysian Insider

Utusan Malaysia reporter Mohd Nizam Mohd Yatim told the High Court today that he thought the phrase “ultra vires” contained in a press release issued by Karpal Singh meant the DAP man was insulting the Perak Sultan.

Mohd Nizam, the prosecution’s first witness in Karpal’s sedition trial, was subjected to a rigorous cross-examination by defence counsel Jagdeep Singh Deo, and appeared rattled by the lawyer’s questions.

At one point the Utusan Malaysia reporter did not appear to even know what Karpal Singh was being charged with.

The reporter was also unable to show a clear understanding of the barrage of questions by Jagdeep on the four-page press statement distributed by Karpal during a press conference on Feb 6 this year.

Based on a report written by him and published by the newspaper, Mohd Nizam had been put on the witness stand by the prosecution to show that Karpal had committed sedition.

By questioning him over his understanding of what transpired during Karpal's press conference, the defence was attempting to prove he was an unreliable witness.

The DAP chairman and Bukit Gelugor MP was charged with sedition on March 17 for saying Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin's removal as Perak mentri besar by Sultan Azlan Shah could be questioned in a court of law.

The veteran lawyer-politician was charged in the Sessions Court in KL before judge Mohamad Sekeri Mamat under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1948.

Karpal is further accused of several other seditious statements related to the entire Perak constitutional crisis which began two months ago.

He is accused of committing the crime during a press conference at his law firm here on Feb 6.

During cross-examination, Jagdeep had asked the 38-year-old reporter: “Do you agree that his (Karpal) view on the constitution is sought after?”

Mohd Nizam: “I am not sure.”

Jagdeep: “Do you agree that he (Karpal) is known as a smart laywer?”

Mohd Nizam: “I am not sure.”

Jagdeep: “If you still do not know after eight years working then you should start doing your work properly.”

Jagdeep then proceeded to ask him if he understood the press release since it was in English.

Mohd Nizam: “I only understand it in general and not thoroughly.”

Jagdeep then asked the reporter if he agreed that what was said in the press conference was only an opinion of the constitutional crisis in Perak.

“I only report and do not give opinion,” Mohd Nizam replied.

The answer appeared to irritate Jagdeep who accused Mohd Nizam of being insincere.

Jagdeep then told Mohd Nizam to read part of the press release to the court.

Mohd Nizam: “Although the orders have been confirmed by the Sultan. If the decision is ultra vires then the decision can be adjudicated by the court.”

Jagdeep then asked Nizam to explain what ultra vires means to the court.

Nizam looking confused and replied: “To insult.”

Jagdeep then told Mohd Nizam that his misunderstanding of the word had caused chaos in the country because the word actually means “beyond the powers”.

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