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I'll not run even if it means landing in prison for sedition

COMMENT On Sept 5, 2013, I applied for a visa to enter Australia. That application was refused.

The stated reason: “The outstanding criminal charges concerning Mr Ibrahim in Malaysia, combined with his lack of employment in Malaysia, lead me to the finding that Mr Ibrahim does not genuinely intend to stay temporarily in Australia for the purpose of a visit only. In those circumstances, Mr Ibrahim lacks sufficient incentive to depart Australia in accordance with the terms of a subclass 600 visitor visa.”

The ‘outstanding criminal charges’ was a reference to the charge under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act, 1948, in relation to a speech I made at the Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on May 13, 2013.

The Australian authorities were concerned that I would not leave Australia and return to Malaysia to face that charge.

I made a second application. This second application was approved.

To allay the concerns of the Australian authorities as stated above, in an addendum to my second application, I stated, amongst others, as follows:

My present work, to take back our nation from a thieving regime and to bring justice, long overdue, to 40 percent of our people who have been long deprived of educational and economic opportunities, work for which I have given up the comfort of my previous lifestyle, is not yet done. I will not abandon my people.

My message to the people, time and again, has been that we must not fear the present regime, and must be prepared to face whatever they throw at us. It behoves me, therefore, to 'walk my own talk'.

As such, I do not propose to run away from my pending criminal charge and, if convicted, I will stay to serve out whatever sentence is meted out.

The trial of the sedition charge against me started late last year.

I am truly blessed

Yesterday, the trial judge convicted me and sentenced me to eight months' jail.

On the application of YB Gobind Singh, the judge granted me a stay pending my appeal to the High Court against the conviction and sentence.

I cannot say when that appeal will be heard. I also cannot properly say anything of the decision today, as it is the matter of the pending appeal.

What can I say? First, that I am truly blessed.

Throughout the course of the court proceedings, from the early preliminary stages right up to today, I have been represented by some of the finest members of the Malaysian Bar, who have given their time and energy in my defence.

Throughout, friends and family have been with me in court to give me support and comfort.

Thank you, all, and may God continue to shower you with His blessings.

I also want to say this. Now, more than ever before, our nation and her people need us. All of us. United as one people. Fearless. To do what is right.

There is much work to be done. I am with you.

HARIS IBRAHIM is an activist, who is also a lawyer.

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