Judiciary Rot – Let’s do what each Individual should Do

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Nov 01 2007
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Guess it’s true what a MP (member of parliament) said today. The MP, Zaid Ibrahim, who is a member of the ruling party, UMNO, is perhaps the only one from the government who dare to go against the odds on the ridiculous happenings to the nation’s judiciary. He can choose to sit and watch quietly from the sideline but being a senior lawyer, I guess the mess is too much to bear so much so that he couldn’t take it anymore and need to express his opinion.

Instead of firing salvos at the government to which I believe he knew would not make any difference considering more than 90 percent of the MP are hopeless, he fired at the people. He said he’s depressed as the people had become too comfortable due to the country’s prosperity and don’t seem to care too much about the independence of the judiciary and separation of powers. What really pissed him off could be the fact that despite almost 2,000 lawyers’ recent marching which should be seen as a sign of threat to national security, people on the street and even the bench does not seem worried.

Sharing the same sentiment on Malaysian continuous gloomy state of Judicial is the senior constitutional lawyer Raja Aziz Addruse who said the checks and balances that were in the 1957 constitution did not exist anymore. He cited the reasons for this change as a failure of the courts to uphold fundamental liberties, executive interference and the amendment to Article 121 which meant that the courts’ jurisdiction was now as that determined by Parliament.

“Fundamental liberties no longer exist; this is a harsh thing to say but the courts don’t seem to think that fundamental rights are important … To me, the constitution now means nothing because it can be changed at any time he said yesterday at a coffee table session on “What the Constitution means to me” on the last day of the 14th Malaysian Law Conference.

Malaysia’s Sultan of Perak, Azlan Shah, one of the country’s most respected figures, has hit out at the country’s increasingly tainted judicial system and his speech appears to be dramatically deepening the divide between the country’s nine hereditary rulers and the government. Sultan Azlan Shah was the former lord president of the Supreme Court is by far the most distinguished of the nine sultans and he is said to be the force behind the Conference of Rulers’ denial of Fairuz’s 6-months extension.

One of the most successful tactics adopted by ruling government is the creation of fear, divide and rule. Most of the Malay-ethnic are being fed with subsidies, goodies such as NEP (New Economic Policy) and brain-washed with government-control media’s propagandas. The NEP was also the greatest tool to separate the Malay-ethnic from other races. Chinese-ethnic especially the older generation on the other hand is constantly fed with “fear”, the government never fails to use 13th May incident to swing the Chinese votes whenever the needs arise. The younger generation however is either ignorant or simply too busy with their modern lifestyle.

As long as the economy doesn’t end up like in Myanmar (Burma), the Chinese wouldn’t care. That’s the problem with most of the Chinese people. They’re too scared to rock the boat even though the boat is actually rocking hard now and it’s a matter of time before capsize. Probably the Chinese learnt the art of denial syndrome from some of the MPs and prefer to live in the denial world – everthing is still OK.

Today also marks the “expiry date” of Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Rahim – his tenure ended yesterday. As with U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke who was expected to cut the interest rate (he did cut by 25 basis points), Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz’s application for extension is expected to be rejected by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin at the Conference of Rulers.

Ahmad Fairuz, who turns 66 (compulsory retirement age for judges) today, reportedly had his statement recorded by the Anti-Corruption Agency investigating the video clip controversy of which a lawyer was filmed talking to supposedly a senior judge on his handphone, purportedly trying to broker the appointment of judges. Let’s assume Ahmad Fairuz is history and his desire for extension will never come true. Then what? Who’ll be the next in line to take over?

Going by the Courts of Judicature Act 1964, the second judiciary man, the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Abdul Hamid, will assume the role of the Chief Justice. However the rumors are circulating that someone dear to the ruling party might be given the helicopter ride. UMNO lawyer Zaki Azmi became the first lawyer in the history of Malaysian Judiciary to be appointed straight to the Federal Court, bypassing the convention of first serving in the High Court and the Court of Appeal back in early Sept 2007. Zaki could be the person in PM Abduallah Badawi’s backup plan to have someone pro-UMNO becoming the Chief Justice in case Ahmad Fairuz couldn’t make it.

So everything back to square one? The judiary continue to rot with the Executive squeezing Judicial’s ball to rubber stamp ruling government’s wishes. After the recent 2,000 lawyers’ recent marching now there’re talks to boycott t
he courts
. Lawyer Haris Ibrahim had recently submitted a petition to the King containing 5,036 signatures from the public for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the video clip. What else can be done to bring back the judiciary’s shine?

Forget about former premier Mahathir who engineered the collapse of the Judiciary Pillar back in 1988 when he sacked Lord President Tun Salleh Abas and other judges. Mahathir’s dictatorship was partly due to the majority supports given by the same voters who might be suffering now, one way or another. Let’s do what each individual can do. Let the King and his comrades do whatever they are supposed to do. Let the Bar Council boycott whichever courts convenient to them. Let the oppositions scream and raise all the issues at parliament till their throat sore. Let the political bloggers continue to expose more interesting stories. And let’s vote more wisely this time else don’t cry for help.

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# Update: Court of Appeal president Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohamad has been made the acting Chief Justice while waiting for the post to be filled officially. Ahmad Fairuz’s application for extension was NOT renewed.

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