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Friday, June 13, 2008

More on the Judiciary: Ex-judges: CJs call the shots

Just saw this on Malaysia Today - I've stopped reading the Star hardcopy years ago.


As usual, I will just highlight the parts that is relevant to me. You can form your own opinion on the state of our judiciary. See also my previous article here, which I understand is also a front pager in MSM the day after it was published over the Internet (http://fusioninvestor.blogspot.com/2008/06/high-court-judge-makes-explosive.html).


Ex-judges: CJs call the shots

Friday, 13 June 2008

(The Star) - How effectively judges can raise issues without fear during the Conference of Judges depends on who the Chief Justice is, several retired judges said.

They said the conference was an effective forum for issues to be brought up until the removal of Tun Salleh Abas as Lord President in 1988.

They said this in response to the question why several judges have, over the years, resorted to making shocking revelations or disturbing statements either in open court, in written judgments or public speeches.

The latest was that of High Court judge Datuk Ian Chin who said he felt threatened by a former prime minister after making two judgments.

He also claimed he was sent to a “boot camp” in 1997 designed to indoctrinate judges and judicial officers to put Government interest above anything else when considering a judgment.

In the years of former lord presidents Tun Suffian (Hashim), Raja Azlan Shah (as he then was), Tun Salleh and even to a lesser extent Tun Hamid (Omar), nobody would have talked down to us,” said Court of Appeal judge Datuk V.C. George who retired in December 1995.

They certainly would never have told us how to decide a case. We were able to raise issues without fear and even debate them vociferously at times.

During and after the Tun Salleh debacle, we were never given the opportunity to talk about that.”

(Seng comment: In another article today, Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim according to NST Editorial says ""WHERE do you stop?" , in response to calls for a commission of inquiry into judge Datuk Ian Chin's open-court revelations of alleged executive interference in the judiciary under the previous administration. http://www.malaysia-today.net/2008/content/view/8757/1/; My own belief is that when you have this rot over the last 20 years, do NOT - Datuk Zaid AND the NST - be too hasty to sweep everything under the carpet. Let everything comes out first. Let people express fully what they have been forced to surpress for the last 20 years. Be completely open. Be completely transparent! Allow everyone to Admit and Accept that there have been mistakes made over the last 20 years. Only when we do NOT surpress these, then, we have a chance to start afresh without any excess baggage.)

Datuk Visu Sinnadurai, who served as a High Court judge from 1992-1997, said that whoever held the post of CJ set the tenor, standards or behaviour for the rest of the judiciary.

“The CJ’s role is important because it is his responsibility to ensure the independence of the judiciary and that the rule of law is upheld at all times.”

Datuk Shaik Daud Ismail, who retired as Court of Appeal judge in June 2001, said: “Judges should be more open and should not be afraid to speak out even though it may hurt (another judge) because it is for the good of the judiciary,” he said.

Asked where judges should take their complaints, he said the Conference of Judges was the only place to go.

Another former judge expressed the hope that Justice Chin would not be asked to resign over his disclosures or if that were to happen, he would not lose his pension or medical benefits as experienced by former High Court judge Datuk Syed Ahmad Idid who had written an anonymous letter alleging improprieties in the judiciary in 1996.

(Seng comment: This is the problem. Who now have any confidence in the Judiciary? Will foreign funds have confidence? When I don't even have the confidence? Yes, this is an improvement, a small step in the right direction, by admitting it in the press, but the road to reform is a very long road ahead. Critics says this is just lip service. Sweeping things under the carpet quickly is not the answer.)

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