Malaysia's Judiciary Crisis!

From AsiaTimesOnline 26th Sept 2007

Malaysia's judiciary on Candid Camera
By Anil Netto

PENANG, Malaysia - On May 27, 1988, then-prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, his party faced with a legal challenge from rivals that threatened his leadership, summoned Malaysia's top judge, Salleh Abas, and gave him an ultimatum: resign or face a judicial tribunal. That secret private meeting led to suspension of Salleh and five other top judges (three of whom were later reinstated). It precipitated a crisis from which the judiciary has never recovered.

Today, the once-powerful Mahathir, 82, is under sedation in intensive care after surgery to treat a infection following a heart-bypass operation on September 4.

And today, the credibility of the judiciary itself is also on life support after explosive revelations in a widely circulated (including on YouTube) eight-minute video clip featuring what appears to be a well-connected senior lawyer, V K Lingam, purportedly discussing promotions and factionalism among senior judges over the phone with Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, the No 3 judge in the country at the time the clip was recorded on a mobile phone in 2002.

Lingam is also seen apparently talking to Fairuz about the latter's own rise within the judiciary. Ahmad Fairuz is today the country's chief justice, due to retire next month. The lawyer is also heard saying that he had discussed the judiciary with tycoon Vincent Tan and another prominent ruling party politician - both regarded as intermediaries to then-prime minister Mahathir. The conversation suggests that certain top judges are closely connected with the country's top leaders via political intermediaries and business cronies.

The minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Nazri Abdul Aziz, has said that the judge implicated in the video clip had called him to deny that he was the one talking to the lawyer.

Some see these revelations as God-sent. One academic told Asia Times Online, "This is a sterling opportunity to draw out the oligarchic control of this country - a chance to pull away from the ethnic ding-dong that's going on. Here is the oligarchy of wealth and privilege: an Indian lawyer, a Chinese tycoon, a Malay judge, etc. And claiming to do this in the interests of the country, of the PM" (Mahathir).

The affair gives a whole new meaning to the word muhibbah (Malay for "interracial goodwill") - while the elites divide and rule the rest of the country, secure in their own positions of wealth and power. It was only recently that Ahmad Fairuz stirred controversy when he suggested that reference to the English common law in Malaysia's legal system be abolished. The move sparked an outcry among non-Muslim groups who felt that it would pave the way for the adoption of sharia (Islamic law) precepts.

Civil-society groups have already called for the suspension of the chief justice. The Bar Council is organizing a march of lawyers from the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya, the administrative capital, to the Prime Minister's Office on Wednesday. They will submit a memorandum to Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and the cabinet calling for a royal commission of inquiry to investigate the allegations in the video clip.

The government announced on Tuesday it is setting up an independent panel to investigate the video clip. The Bar Council welcomed this as a first step, but is still asking for a royal commission of inquiry which should also look into the state of the judiciary and the need for a Judicial Appointments Commission.

The video has demonstrated that Malaysians cannot leave the appointment and promotion of judges in the hands of the few, said lawyer Dipendra Harshad Rai in a published comment. He joined others in calling for the establishment of an independent commission for the appointment and promotion of judges.

Prior to 1988, he said, the top judge would forward a name, after police vetting, to the prime minister. This process also included the top judge consulting the bar chairman and other senior bar members. Although this practice was done informally, it did provide some assurance that only people of good character, competence and suitability were recommended, observed Dipendra.

The events of 1988 saw the end of this process. "Appointments and promotions of judges were left basically to the chief justice and the prime minister. Never have the fate of so many been decided by so few," said Dipendra. "No doubt, only those with the right political patronage and right beliefs were considered as suitable."

The video clip will affect every aspect of civil society, he added. "A layman who loses his case will feel that it was because the system is corrupt no matter how right the decision may have been," he said. "An investor would think twice before investing simply because the corrupt lawyers and corrupt judges will get him no relief."

The video clip was revealed to the media by former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim, who is now trying to stitch together an alliance among Malaysia's disparate opposition parties. Anwar himself was a victim of the judiciary, having been incarcerated after trials widely regarded as politically motivated.

Not surprisingly, faced with such compelling disclosures, the government has cast doubts on the authenticity of the video clip. But many Malaysians do not appear to be in the least surprised at the revelations and the clip has been posted all over Malaysian websites and blogs.

In 1999, opposition leader Lim Kit Siang tabled a substantive motion in Parliament expressing concern over serious allegations of judicial impropriety that had emerged in a defamation suit against the Asian Wall Street Journal.

In his motion, Lim pointed out that Lingam was alleged (by the Journal correspondent in an amended defense) to have written part of a 1994 judgment in a defamation case brought by Vincent Tan against the journalist. The judgment was alleged to have been typed by Lingam's secretaries, corrected by the lawyer and the final draft dispatched to the judge on a floppy disk. Lingam was also said to have placed the then former chief justice, Eusoff Chin, in his debt by getting their families to vacation together in New Zealand. Both the lawyer and the judge had posed for pictures with their arms around each other and with each other's families. The photographs later found their way on to the Internet and were widely circulated, sparking an earlier outcry.

Unlike the strong reaction in Pakistan when the country's top judge was dismissed and later reinstated, there is unlikely to be a similar reaction in Malaysia to the latest revelations - notwithstanding the lawyers' march on Wednesday and an emergency general meeting on October 6. The concern and outrage may be there, but for the most part, many Malaysians are no longer surprised at how low the judiciary has sunk, their expectations severely diminished since 1988.

While the call for a royal commission was appropriate, there was no guarantee it would achieve anything. "You can have all the 'independent' commissions in the world, but as long as you have some influential people prepared to use their leverage in such unprincipled ways, then no independent commission is going to be independent," said the academic mentioned earlier. He predicted there would be a concerted attempt to damp down the crisis.

Much would depend on how far Malaysia's Conference of Rulers (the country's nine sultans) would want to stick out their necks to defend the judiciary from executive interference.

Coming on the heels of a lackluster economy, both locally and globally, and allegations of widespread corruption, the crisis in the judiciary is the last thing Abdullah needs. His administration has been battered with accusations of lethargy, inertia and lack of vision. Given the current domestic climate and the credibility crisis, a significant economic downturn could have uncertain consequences and the country could pay a price.

The next general election is not due until early 2009 - though many have been expecting polls within the next six months - so Abdullah has plenty of time to let this crisis run its course and subside. Nonetheless, his reluctance to take decisive action has tarnished his own credibility. His administration has still not yet implemented a key recommendation from a royal commission to investigate the police - the call for an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission - though officials claim progress is being made.

The fractured opposition parties stand to gain from this crisis of credibility facing the judiciary. But they are unlikely to win the next general election given the ruling coalition's iron grip on the mainstream media and its control of development purse-strings.

That would leave the judiciary still in tatters. So, as much as Abdullah may be loath to back a royal commission of inquiry, he faces little choice if he wants to restore the credibility of the judiciary - and his administration. The alternative is sinking deeper into a morass of corruption, decay and disillusionment.

Anil Netto is a Penang-based writer.


Edison Chen edison sex scandal edison sex sex scandal Gillian Chung cecilia cheung 陳冠希 sex photos sex videos Gillian sex Manohara Odelia Pinot Tengku Temenggong Mohammad Fakhry prostitute 张柏芝 锺欣桐 malaysia 張栢芝 钟欣桐 big breast breast augmentation surgery humor sex sex slave breast implant china edison sex videos jolin tsai malaysian prince oral sex penis prostitution singapore vincy yeung nude woman youtube Bobo Nude Charlene Choi Gangnam Style Gillian Nude Herbal sex drug OED PSY STDs Serena Kozakura Sufiah Yusof Virgin WONG MENG CHEE Wee Meng Chee adultery airline passengers airport apple iphone asian beer big boobs breast breast enlargement brothel cecilia nude cecilia sex chinese condoms cosmetic surgery death divorce english dictionary english language facebook female foreplay gadis melayu gender herbal sex pills hooker immigration indonesia iphone iphone hack lovemaking making love malay girls malay hooker male man marriage masturbation maths genius maths prodigy monash university moral of story namewee natual sexual enhancers nicholes tse older men oxford oxford english dictionary pelacur melayu plane porn rap rapper sex hormones sex orgy sex remedy sex study sex supplements sex toys singapore girls sue taiwan underage girl underage scandal viagra women 黃明志 2012 Adriana Lima Adriana Lima Nude Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim Alzheimer Brazilian Call Girl Chanell Elaine Hallett Cherie Chung DD David Carradine Dawn Yang E. Coli Escherichia coli Fiona Sit GQ magazine Genital Herpes Gloria Allred Greg Louganis Guo Mei Mei HIV Hope Solo Hsu Chi Jill M Vidal Joey Yung Juno Mak Kim Hyuna Kira Kpop Kristin Davis LaShawn Merritt MV Maggie Q Mahathir Mohamad Mandi Hamlin Mani Fok Music Video Nazri Abdul Aziz PMS Prevent genital herpes RANZCOG Ryan Lochte STIs STUDENT. international students Schwartenmagen Sex Gel Sex Party Sexually Transmitted Infections Sheyla Hershey Shu qi Stephy Tang TMZ The moment of truth Tianducheng Tony Azevedo Transportation Security Administration UNIVERSITY V K lingam Vincent Hotel VivaGel Yumiko Cheng Zhejiang Guangsha abyss creations accident addiction advertising age-related macular degeneration airline albert yeung alcohol angeline jolie anwar ibrahim apartheid artificial vagina athens aussie women australia australian sex gel auto-erotic asphyxiation baby airlines baby flight baby plane ban breastfeed photo ban breastfeeding photo barbie beijing best sex bestiality bet bikini model bimbo game blind blow job blow up doll blue bmw m3 bmw m3 challenge bmw m3 coupe bmw m3 game bmw racing game bobo chan boob job boobs bourlon barracks boycott bra bra cup brand brand recognition branding breast reduction breast reduction surgery bree conden bugs bumiputera bumiputra cameron diaz canada sex party cancer car career career counselling carina lau casual sex cathay pacific childcare children children airline children plane children travel china barbie chinabarbie christy chung color colour combat pilot comedic conman consideration contentment contraceptive pill corruption crazy english credit card debt demand and supply dendrimer depressed women depression designer vagina designer vaginas dictionary direct marketing disabled discriminate breastfeed discriminate breastfeeding donald trump dragon white king duke of lancaster's regiment early learning economic model economics education electronic elva hsiao english erogenous zone exam stress exposed breast extend lifespan facebook ban breastfeeding mum fantasy fatal female doll female libido female orgasm female sex flight france china france shanghai frank cleri friends funny gamble gambling game show gangnam style parody german sausage goat goodness greedy health heart hessen high debt homer homer simpson honesty human lifespan humility humour hyphens indecency charges indecent acts independence indian insurance intercourse international Journal of Sexual Medicine iphone china iphone software patch iphone software unlock iphonesimfree isabella leong israel japan jet fighter pilot jokes kawanku kids airline kids flight kids flying kids plane kids travel kindy kissing kung fu kungfu labiaplasty lactivists lap dance lars and the real girl lauren cleri libido life size doll london long life longevity lord m3 racing m3 racing game malaysia corrupt judge malaysia corruption malaysia crisis malaysia judiciary malaysia politics male fertility male hormone mariah carey marketing maserati masturbate mattel mederka medical condition men's health mental health microbicides miko style mile high club military miss korea miss korea 2012 missbimbo mistress models monks moral muscular dystrophy my friends myspace nakazawa foods negarakuku neurotoxin new bmw m3 new english terms ninja ninjutsu nipple rings nude nurse obesity office sex olympic sex olympic village olympics sex online online porn online sex orgy paris china paris in china paris in shanghai paris shanghai patrick tse pay payment pepsi perseverance personal finance perspective perve perving petting phone sex pink plastic surgery poker police polygamy poo pr prevent HIV prostate cancer prostitutes public indecency public relations public sex public transport quotations quotes racial racism racist real doll realdolls recall reduce stress richard li robbery royal australian navy ryan gosling ryanair sabura allen safety scanner security sedition seed sensual spot sex aid sex and the city sex ban sex cheat sex disease sex doll sex services sex therapist sex toys minibar sexual services shagbook shaolin shaolin kungfu shaolin temple social software solicit southport speed camera stress stressed adults strip club student sudden weekly summer games super bowl super premium milk supermodel swimsuit model sydney tanning booth telemarketing testosterone thief toddlers toilet trademark traffic camera trump vodka trust turbosim twins umno venereal disease victorian safety camera victorian speed camera vincy yeung virginity vodka water wine winter games winter olympics woman libido woman orgasm work drinks wurst young girls younger women 天都城 小桜セレナ 我爱我的国家 我的朋友 李泽楷 梁洛施 舒淇 蔡依林 蔡卓妍 郭美美 陳文媛 강남 스타일 싸이
Related posts :