If there were true equality of the law, people who incite violence in their efforts to effect regime change would not get away with it. (Graphic by Dayang Norazhar/The Mole)
KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today that equality before the law is a fiction because some people get away with breaking the law and others lack the protection the law is supposed to provide.
Equality before the law “is not upheld at all,” Dr Mahathir said. “Some people are actually above the law and some are far below it, i.e. they don’t really get the benefit or protection of the law”.
The latter group face problems in the democratic legal system, the former Prime Minister said, because they have to rely on lawyers to argue their cases; success or failure depends on whether the lawyers are “clever and smart” or “just plain stupid”.
Of course, he said, the more competent ones cost more, which means the system favours wealthier people.
“Effectively the law almost always favours the rich and not the poor,” he said. “There is clearly no equality before the law. Get a good expensive lawyer and you can get away with murder. Get a bad cheap lawyer and you may be hanged for someone else’s murder.”
Dr Mahathir said the same is true of international law, where leaders of powerful countries can get away with massacres, but leaders of poor, weak countries get accused of oppression and brutality if they react to opposition violence.
“The opposition, when they are clever enough to promise a variety of freedoms, can do no wrong even when they use violence to provoke the police into so-called acts of brutality,” he said.
This discrepancy favours someone plotting regime change, he said, because “government action against this privileged person would be regarded as attempts to undermine his chances of overthrowing the government”.
“That the favourite purposely timed his violence just when elections are near would be ignored,” he said.
“That the provocation of the police is deliberate and meant to elicit ‘police brutality’ will also be ignored. That the police are beaten up, that police cars have their glass windshields smashed and the police car is overturned in full view of TV cameras – all these are inconsequential.
“The main thing is the action against the favoured opposition by the Government will be deemed political rather than an exercise in legal equality by the Government,” he said.
“There really is no equality before the law,” he said. “Instead there is blatant inequality; there is bias in favour of some people especially the aspirants for regime change.”
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