- Today's GUEST BLOGGER Sdr KIM QUEK needs no introduction in the media world, especially writing on Socio-Political matters of concern to NegaraKu. I first spied his writings at malaysiakini.com where he is an established columnist.
- I had the privilege of meeting up in person with Kim (does Rudyard Kipling ring a belle hear?) last Tuesday, along wit' stimulants like a new spice man, Datuk Shannon, Terence Netto and Bernard Khoo, aka lurking around @zorro-zorro-unmasked. blogspot.com when stimulated by C-Z-Jones!
Now let's hear it from Kim who is an accountant, and if I am not mistaken, he's a younger member than Desi in Parti Keadilan Rakyat where I am only jest nine months old. Together with other like-minded Malaysians we shall strive to bring about a more just and equitable society, based mainly on needs, never on ethnic origins, religion or colour, and certainly not on race.
"Congratulations to the Malaysian Bar Council for rising to the occasion in the face of naked assault on our judicial system as highlighted by the explosive video clip that exposes evil political manipulation of the judiciary.
The Council has called on the government to immediately set up a Royal Commission of Enquiry to get to the bottom of the depraved state of our judicial system. And to demonstrate the Bar's resolve, it has unprecedentedly called on members to march from the Palace of Justice to the Prime Minister's Department in Putrajaya to deliver the memorandum of request to the Cabinet (on Sept 26).
It is indeed heartening to see the Malaysian Bar living up to its role as vanguard in the defence of judicial integrity. Let this be the start of a determined nation-wide movement to cleanse our judiciary of entrenched political manipulation.
The Video Clip
The eight-minute video clip exposed by Anwar Ibrahim on Sept 19, capturing lawyer V.K.Lingam in a telephone conversation with Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz held in 2002, is amazingly illustrative of the devilish practice that has corrupted the Malaysian judiciary for the past two decades. (Fairuz was then Chief Judge of Malaya , No.3 in judiciary).
The Lingam video reveals how the prime minister decides on senior judicial positions "not by consultation with the judicial fraternity but by listening to whispers" by close business and political cronies, who function as agents for the prime minister's personal financial and political interests (words in inverted comas in this article are the exact words used by Lingam in the video clip conversation). It also confirms that the criteria of selection are not based on judicial merits but on political and personal allegiance to the prime minister. Persons on the preference list are termed by Lingam as "key players and soldiers". Judges favoured by the then independent-minded Chief Justice Dzaiddin Abdullah who often defied the PM's wishes are classified as in the other camp? Judges loyal to the prime minister including Eusoff Chin, Ahmad Fairuz, are said to have "fought for" the cause. Fairuz was even praised for giving "110% loyalty" .
In the telephone conversation, Lingam and Fairuz were discussing the strategy to outsmart Dzaiddin so that more judges loyal to the prime minister could be placed in key positions. Fairuz must have impressed on Lingam that central to this strategy was the prompt promotion of Fairuz himself to higher position and pressed Lingam to help out.
Lingam repeatedly assured Fairuz that he had been working hard on this, and Lingam even described how he managed to get Fairuz the Chief Judge of Malaya job through "brainwashing" Vincent Tan (then Prime Minister Mahathir's business crony) into convincing Mahathir to give the job to Fairuz. (Fairuz was appointed CJM in late 2001).
Lingam also promised Fairuz that he would ask Vincent to remind the PM to bestow a Tan Sri ship to Fairuz so as to "elevate" the latter's position. Lingam ended the conversation with assurance to Fairuz that he would pursue hard on Fairuz's promotion and would arrange for Fairuz to meet Vincent and Tenku Adnan (a minister and a political crony to Mahathir) confidentially, prior to a meeting with the PM.
As it turned out, Fairuz was made a Tan Sri in June 2002, promoted as President of the Court of Appeal (No. 2 in judiciary) in December 2002, and eventually as Chief Justice in March 2003.
Despite the common knowledge that Malaysian judiciary has been under political manipulation for many years, nevertheless, the revelation of the video clip caused a firestorm of fury and protests. This is akin to a wife being shown a snapshot of the long suspected unfaithful husband caught with his pants down. Though the revelation is not new, its electrifying effect is still the same -- enough to cause the wife to blow up in a state of frenzy.
It is encouraging to note that Malaysian society across the board, save the ruling coalition, reacted instantly with indignation and a determined spirit that this hideous mutilation of our judiciary must be halted. All opposition parties, the Bar Council, numerous NGOs and individuals have voiced their anger and demanded the immediate setting up of an independent commission of enquiry to probe into the revelation of the video clip, with a view to seek long term solution to our much battered judiciary, in addition to meting out punishment to the culprits.
While the nation is at boiling point, where are the culprits -- Lingam and Fairuz? A week has lapsed since the revelation, they are still no where to be seen. There has been no open denial of their role in this shameful episode.
Meanwhile, top guns of the establishment -- PM, DPM, Minister in charge of law, and even the attorney general -- seem to be pursuing the same well trodden path of smothering the fire set off by a high-level scandal. Their objective may be the same, but their tactics vary. Worthy of mention are those of the AG and the PM.
The strangest is from the AG who, as top law officer of the government, incredibly thinks that there is nothing wrong with the substance revealed by the tape.
The saddest is from the PM, who seems to aim his gun at the whistle-blower, instead of the culprits. The most revulsive part of his statement is his claim that "the video was released with the aim of getting the people angry with the country's judiciary system" and his warning that "those who released the video, as well as those who lodged ACA reports" would be punished, if the video was found to be not true (The Sun, Sept 21).
To these leaders indulging in the denial syndrome to deceive the nation, let me ask this common sense question. If you are the alleged culprit, and the video is a fake, wouldn't you have jumped up to declare your innocence in the first instance and reported the fraud to the police so as to nail the forgers? Being most knowledgeable of the law, the Chief Justice should not only do this for his own personal interest, but he is in fact absolutely duty-bound to do so, so as to defend the good name of the judiciary. Hence, instead of threatening the whistle blower, wouldn't it be more appropriate for the PM to get the principals of the scandal to publicly declare their straightforward answers and to follow this up with an independent enquiry?
Strategy of Action
Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi flatly rejected the notion of an independent enquiry during a press conference on Sept 21; instead, he asked the police to investigate the case, starting with determining the authenticity of the tape. We know only too well what this will lead to, as we are very familiar with the government's modulus operandi in dealing with scandals involving top officials in the ruling clique (the Chief Justice is undeniably one, according to the tape) --investigation by either police or the Anti-Corruption Agency, then long delay until public interests have waned, and eventually the Attorney-General emerges to declare case closed due to inconclusive evidence.
Knowing Adullah's style of leadership, the Bar Council must brace itself to a disappointing response (or rather non-response) from Abdullah on the memorandum to be presented on Sept 26, and plan for alternative strategies to push the agenda ahead.
A silver lining in the cloud is our King, who is empowered under the Commissions of Enquiry Act 1950 (Revised 1973) to appoint a commission to inquire into any public matter as he deems fit to uphold public interests. In this connection, the people are encouraged by the righteous utterances of royalties in recent days and are confident that the King, with the backing of his fellow rulers, will not hesitate to exercise his constitutional power to protect the rights and interests of the people when the occasion so arises.
The Malaysian Bar as primary defenders of law, political parties, NGOs and the civil society at large should therefore seize this opportunity to forge concerted efforts in appealing to the King, as well as in organising other mass movements that would place the nation on-course to restoration of integrity in the judicial system.
Meanwhile, we should realise the serious constraints to spreading public awareness of the perils to our nation caused by a maimed judiciary, as the ruling BN still exercises complete stranglehold on the local press and TV channels. As of now, none of these has identified the culprits in the video clip or publicised Bar Council's proposed march from the Palace of Justice to the PM's Department on Mar 26.
It therefore falls upon the shoulders of those already enlightened through organized bodies and the Internet to work doubly hard towards achieving our aims. For a start, let us together make the proposed march on 26th a momentous event -- one that is fitting to usher in a new era of judicial reforms.
DESIDERATA: First off, Thanks Sdr Kim for the time spent sharing thy thoughts so well put and articulated; second, note that the highlights (thus BOLDED) in the article are mine.
Please publicise this important issue via your own channels. I hope Malaysians in general will stand up and be counted in such moments of tremendous challenge -- and act in concert with their friends and acquaintances to bring about judicial reforms and justice in defence of the common people's rights. Failure to act, or react even, will result in a continual slide towards the Abyss which all concerned Malaysians would not wish to see this potentially great nation slide towards the Abyss because of leaders placed into power who only subvert the nation's cause for their own self-interests.
I extracted this from fellow blogger Ahirudin Attan's rockybru.blogspot.com; BTW, the walk is at 11.00am sharp!
"Edmund Bon of the Bar Council has a message for you:
The walk tomorrow is a peaceful stroll to the PM's Office. Everything humanly possible is being done and has been done over the couple of days to ensure this.
The Cabinet has been informed that we are doing this, and handing over a memorandum and a representative will be expecting us.
The walk is importantly (1) a show of solidarity of the Bar and civil society's positions on the issue (2) to send a message that we are serious about wanting a clean up of the Judiciary including by (3) calling for an independent appointments and promotion commission (4) calling for a royal commission to enquire into the recording and the state of the administration of justice in Malaysia.
A Star sms has been received about DPM announcing the establishment of a panel to investigate the authenticity of the clip. This does not change anything about the walk.
We are still proceeding to walk because the issues we are advocating are not limited to the recording alone but with much larger issues as described above. And would such a decision by the Govt for a panel be set up have been made without the continuous pressure from us and civil society which includes calling for this walk, more so after PM said there would be no royal commission?
Believe in the power we all have in making change, and believe in ourselves. We CANNOT be afraid to walk, we CANNOT look lowly on ourselves, we CANNOT give up our country to people who do not deserve to run it. SO PLEASE JOIN THE WALK!
--Warm regards, EDMUND BON"
PS: Anyone from Seremban heading for Putrajaya tomorrow? Desi needs an urgent ride -- no, not into the sunset, SUN shall rise after full moon tonight!:) Call me @012-9702285. Even if the SpecialBrunch wants to give me a lift, I'll hitch!:)