Let’s admit it, the judiciary in Malaysia has gone to the dogs! Unfair judgement, right to fair hearing being disregarded, liberty at stake – it has all the ingredients of a best-selling K-Drama legal series. Alas, if this is not curtailed, it will set the precedent for things to come
You know all is not right with the judiciary when the Malaysian Bar Council issued a media statement on why jailed former Premier Najib Razak should not be pardoned.
Former Law Minister and lawyer Zaid Ibrahim called the Bar Council (BC) ‘insolent’. I can only refer to them as insane.
The BC is supposedly made up of lawyers who fight to keep their clients who proclaim themselves innocent from being jailed. Yet, the accused are wrongfully judged and are now not allowed to beg for clemency. If that is the case, then there is no need for lawyers to represent their clients, they might as well sell burgers while the accused will just be pronounced guilty, sent to jail and rot in there.
I would think that the Malaysian BC should be spending time issuing protest statements against the Chief Justice for not granting Najib’s new appointed lawyers an extension of time for them to study the files associated with the case so that they can perform their duties as lawyers well and give the best representation to their client.
Instead, the BC was earlier quoted to have said that they were considering taking action against lawyers Hisyam Teh and Zaid for acting unprofessionally. I take back my word. That’s not insane, that’s pure disgusting. And not to mention unprofessional on the part of the BC.
Okay, let’s put the BC on the back burner for a bit. As my colleague Joe Fernandez said: No need to discredit the Bar Council, they are doing a good job of it (discrediting) themselves.
Judiciary In A Hurry
Let’s now talk about the Chief Justice, Tengku Maimun Tun Mat who seemed to be in an absolute hurry to catch the train to Kelantan or Melaka so she decided to ignore all calls, explanations and appeals for a little bit of time for Najib’s lawyers to present their submission, and just literally banged the gavel and screamed “guilty as charged, now off you go to prison.” I said literally, as those were not her exact words, of course.
Take note that she did this even though Hisyam Teh the lawyer had applied to discharge himself earlier, but she did not record the discharge in order to facilitate her making the ruling by having the defence counsel present. At that time, may I know where were you, Bar Council folks?
On top of that, she later went on to chastise citizens who took a swipe at the manner she was conducting herself in court. Madam CJ, where is our right to freedom of expression?
When one talks about the judiciary, you get visions of a weighing scale held up by a woman wearing a robe with her eyes blindfolded. And that is how our justice system should be run – fair and without looking at anything to cloud your judgement.
In Malaysia, however, what you see in the photo is what has been happening. Although the lady’s eyes are covered, she can see through with one eye and the weighing scales has the two famous personalities on each of the bowls.
Yes, that’s justice in Malaysia for you. With the recent incarceration of former Prime Minister Najib Razak, the SRC International RM42m trial has set a few firsts: A first that a former PM was charged for AMLA, CBT and power abuse. And the first time that a former PM was sent to jail for 12 years.
Prime Ministers have to make judgement calls on certain decisions to help the citizens. Some of these may be unpopular, some may require creative accounting but for sure in Malaysia, you may be dragged to court and jailed for these decisions you make.
Unfortunately, it is also the first time that the judge who pronounced Najib guilty was involved in the crime and did not recuse himself. It was also the first time that a Chief Justice did not allow for the defendant’s attorney to discharge himself so that she can make sure the defendant is represented when she pronounced the Ruling. It had everything that is wrong with the way it was handled, among other things.
Undoubtedly, it had everything that stinks of another former PM, Mahathir Mohamad. It was like a proxy war – Mahathir vs Najib. For now, the former is basking in his glory, but surely not for long.
Najib, after his party Barisan Nasional lost the GE14 in 2018 and had to make way for the Pakatan Harapan gov’t did not just slink away in some corner of the country to sulk and agonise. He took the bull by the horns – he had walkabouts to meet the people, did voluntary work in flood-stricken areas by way of sending essential supplies and used social media to not only educate the people on what needs to be done in times of disasters and pandemic, he also ‘taught’ the gov’t on how to deal with the economic crises.
Yes, he made full use of the freedom he had not to have a good time with his family and friends, he wanted to make sure that we are all okay. And now with his incarceration, he does not have that freedom to help us and we can’t help him either when we read of stories about him not being treated well or given wrong medication leading to him being hospitalised. But while Malaysia seems to turn into a nation ruled by cruel leaders and a questionable justice system, I would like to think that there is something good from all of this.
However, before that can happen, we feel it is time that the King steps in and does what is necessary to put his country right again. Having the judiciary, the Attorney-General Chambers and Bar Council members running amok does not augur well when it comes to attracting foreign investors.
Add to that netizens sharing hate posts and fake news, Opposition leaders making hate speeches, who would want to invest in a country with so much uncertainty and hatred going around when there are so many viable options in the region?
Add to that the unreasonable judgement on Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor, and you know that the country is sick.
If the King finds it difficult to pardon the political prisoner named Najib Razak, then he and the Prime Minister should look at setting up RCIs to open up the various files on the judiciary and the SRC case as that will ensure that the truth will eventually be revealed.
They say that our country is unique. It certainly is. We appear to be trendsetters, the first of so many things with the judiciary.
We all know the charges are trumped up. Najib is now a political prisoner. But with his incarceration, we have seen profound weaknesses in the justice system. Or should we say the Unjustice System?
I guess his martyrship will be acknowledged as part of the country’s history, because, let’s admit it, most of the political prisoners in the country are attributed to one person – Mahathir. Remember Operation Lalang? Here you go.
Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s first Prime Minister and the Father of the Nation, aptly depicted the ultra-Machiavellian machinations of Mahathir who had destroyed the independence of the Malaysian judiciary in the 90s.
“You see, the whole trouble today is, when he took over, he was trying to make sure he would stay on in power.
“He then imposed his rule of despotism or tyranny on this country, at the expense of law and order.
“They set up a dictatorship. To be a complete dictator, you’ve got to take control of everything. But the judiciary is still independent. There’s only one thing blocking his way, the independent judiciary. Now he wants to compromise that independence.
“The time will come. We will have to find a way to put this man in his place. We cannot at the moment because he controls the law (even though he is no longer the PM) – what do you do with a man like that? But the time will come..”
Apart from what the late Tunku said above, I reiterate that there is a reason why Najib was put in jail, apart from the fact that his enemies want to silence his oh-so-popular Bossku persona. After what has happened, we now know that the judiciary needs a severe cleaning up.
Whether the King will do his part, is another matter left to be seen. – NMH
About the writer: Carole Raymond Abdullah is a freelance writer who used to domicile in Hongkong for many years. She is now back in Malaysia, totally surprised at the turn of events in the country lately.
The points expressed in this article are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the stand of the New Malaysia Herald.