Archive for November, 2008

24
Nov
08

Creating a culture of fear

(ref: Malaysiakini report, “Police stop anti-ISA event in Ampang” )

First, they arrested people including Members of Parliament while they were singing the national anthem at the anti-ISA candlelight vigil in PJ on 9 Nov 2008. Then, they arrested the emcee at a similar candlelight vigil in Penang on 15 Nov 2008 despite the crowd agreeing to disperse when asked to. Yesterday (21 Nov), they again arrested 7 people at a gathering to launch an anti-ISA campaign organised by the Abolish ISA Movement (GMI).

This pattern of intimidation of Malaysians at peaceful gatherings is totally uncalled for. It is an ominous sign that the country is regressing back to an authoritarian rule where a culture of fear is created to silence its citizens.

Malaysians must not allow this to happen. We must strengthen the resolve to reject the ultimate tool of intimidation against Malaysians – the ISA – and to call for its abolishment.

(the following is extracted from the article, “Abuse of Power Under the ISA” in the previous issue of the Aliran magazine featuring a special coverage on the ISA)

The ISA confers draconian powers. The ruling government has proceeded to abuse those powers with impunity over the years. The insurgency ended years ago. The country ceased to face an external confrontation even earlier. Today our society is in no danger of being torn apart by violence.

But ISA continues to claim its victims from all walks of life and all ethnic backgrounds.

Made up of men and women of all ages, the ISA victims have included suspected — and let us never forget to emphasise ‘suspected’ — communists, socialists, trade unionists, peasant leaders, student activists, oppositionists, educationists, chauvinists, secessionists, environmentalists, Islamicists, NGO workers, church activists, secret society members, identity card and passport racketeers, counterfeiters, and smugglers of illegal aliens.

As you can see it takes all kinds of people to inhabit the world of the ISA.

But ISA’s present detainees and ex-detainees share this in common: In the eyes of those who uphold the just rule of law, these ISA victims have never been tried in an open court of law, let alone convicted of specific crimes against society.

It is fundamentally no concern of ours whether they think differently, see the world differently, speak, or even act differently from the rest of us. So long as they break no law, so long as they are not openly charged, fairly tried and justly convicted, we must presume them innocent.

Of course, there are people who don’t believe in these basic principles of the rule of law. There are people who want to impose harsh rule by unjust laws. Hence, the Minister of Home Affairs, his ruling politicians, and the police who do their bidding have always treated and continue to treat ISA detainees as worse than convicted common criminals.

An ISA victim is typically incarcerated when a police officer believes him or her to have ‘acted or is about to act or is likely to act in any manner prejudicial to the security of Malaysia’. It’s not as if the ISA victim is typically apprehended when he or she is on the brink of committing a crime. He or she is usually arrested at home in the early hours of the morning when the people disturbing the peace are the arresting officers!

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14
Nov
08

Nazri discovered a letter – Malaysiakini

(ref: Malaysiakini report, “King wanted pension for sacked judges”, http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/92992)

Malaysians must thank the Minister in the PM’s Department, Nazri Aziz for being so forthcoming in providing information in Parliament on the amount of ex-gratia payments made to the judges. He was reported to have said, “Although we do not have to reveal it but the moment parliament asked for it, then we must do so”!

Bravo, Nazri! These are words which we cannot believe can be uttered by an MP from BN. Can the opposition MP’s and Malaysians now expect a rehabilitated and accountable government which will provide answers whenever questions are raised in Parliament especially if it involves public funds? Sadly, I don’t think many Malaysians will bet on it. From past experience, obtaining information from the government in Parliament is more difficult than extracting the teeth of a reluctant dental patient.

Nazri now agrees that the judges were indeed sacked in 1988 instead of being forced into retirement. He said that after a thorough investigation he discovered a letter written by the former Yang di-Pertuan Agong which shows that the King then wanted pensions to be paid to the judges even though they were sacked.

Did he also discovered any other letters during his thorough investigation of the matter? How about the following letter written on 29 May 1988 by Tun Salleh Abas to Mahathir, the Prime Minister at that time, which may give Malaysians a better picture of the circumstances leading to the sacking of the judges?

This letter is available publicly and is found in the book, “May Day For Justice”.

“I refer to my letter dated 28 May and to your response of the same date.

“My letter of 28 May was written on the very next day after I attended the meeting called by you at which YAB Deputy Prime Minister and YB Chief Secretary to the Government were present. At that meeting you informed me that DYMM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang Di-Pertuan Agong had decided to appoint a Tribunal under Article 125 (3) of the Constitution to remove me from office, presumably on the grounds of misbehaviour. You had informed me that my acts which were objectionable consisted of my writing to DYMM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang Di-Pertuan Agong and the Malay Rulers, in defence of the Judiciary against your constant attacks and that I had expressed partiality in respect of the UMNO cases which had come before the courts. I do not deny that I had written the letters to the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong and to the Rulers expressing concern over the attacks made against the Judiciary by you, but in my view there was nothing improper in it since judges of His Majesty are appointed with the consent and approval of the Rulers. Further, the letter was written after a meeting of all the Kuala Lumpur judges held on 25 March. The allegation that I have shown partiality in the UMNO cases was completely untrue and was denied by me categorically.

“My being confronted suddenly with your statement that a Tribunal was being appointed by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong came as a shock and stunned me, and when I came back to my Chambers I had thought that in the interest of the Judiciary and of all the judges it might be better that I applied for all the leave available to me with a view to earlier retirement. Hence my letter to you of 28 May, 1988.

“On careful reflection I have now come to the conclusion that it would be detrimental to the standing of the Judiciary and quite adverse to the interest of the nation if I were to go on early retirement as this could be construed as some form of admission.

“In the circumstances I withdraw my application for early retirement and to take all the available leave as mentioned in my above mentioned letter.

“I shall await the appointment of the Tribunal which, I have no doubt, will clear my name. I have also no doubt that justice will prevail in the end.”

source: “May Day For Justice”

12
Nov
08

REAL reason for dismissal of judges II (ref Malaysiankini)

(ref: Malaysiakini report , “Zaid: PM had agreed for non-disclosure” http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/92775)

In the above Malaysiakini report, Zaid Ibrahim said that if the ex gratia payment amounts paid to the judges involved in the 1988 judicial crisis were revealed, the government is also duty-bound to reveal the real reasons for their dismissals and suspensions.

As a follow-up to the previous posting, reproduced below is an extract from the book “May Day For Justice” which should give us further insight on the real reason why the judges were dismissed in 1988. Tunku Abdul Rahman had described the removal of Tun Salleh Abas as Lord President as “the most shocking story in modern legal and judicial history”.

This is a rather lengthy posting but hopefully it will help us answer whether the monetary payments, regardless of the amount, are sufficient to compensate for the injustice and pain inflicted on Tun Salleh Abas and the other distinguished judges.

The Removal of Tun Salleh Abas
(extract from ‘May Day For Justice”)

Mahathir was continually upset with the Judiciary because the verdicts in a number of cases went against the Government. According to then Deputy PM, Datuk Musa Hitam, one of his favourite slogans was “Hang the Lawyers! Hang the Judges!” From 1987, he intensified his verbal attacks against the Judiciary in the news media, making damaging statements which clearly demonstrated that he did not understand the role of the Judiciary as being independent from the Executive and Legislative arms of Government. That the Judiciary exists as a check-and-balance against the excesses of the Executive appeared to have been a concept he never fully grasped. Instead, he accused judges of the sort of political interference that would result in confusion and loss of public confidence in the Government. Hence, to curtail the powers of the Judiciary and subsume it beneath the Executive became one of his cherished dreams.

In April 1987, after an UMNO leadership contest in which Mahathir very nearly lost to Finance Minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, there were allegations that several delegates who had voted were drawn from branches not properly registered under the Societies Act 1966. An appeal was filed by eleven UMNO delegates to have the elections declared null and void. This was a very serious matter for Mahathir because if the appeal succeeded, fresh elections would have to be held and he might lose. The matter finally came before Justice Harun Hashim of KL High Court who ruled that under the existing law, he had no choice but to declare not just the elections invalid, but the whole of UMNO an unlawful society as well. The country and, more particularly, UMNO, went into a state of shock.

In most modern democracies, a political catastrophe of this magnitude would have result in the immediate resignation of the party’s President and Prime Minister. But Mahathir did not resign. He informed the country that the Government would continue running the country. Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang and Tunku Abdul Rahman called for a vote in Parliament to establish Mahathir’s legitimacy but those calls were ignored. Mahathir then set in motion the machinery to form a new surrogate party called UMNO Baru. His opponents, however, wanted the old party revived. The eleven UMNO delegates then launched an appeal in the Supreme Court to have the 1987 elections alone declared illegal and the party not an unlawful society.

Mahathir fully understood the danger to him of this pending appeal. He had to act quickly. In October 1987, he launched the notorious Operation Lalang in which at least 106 people were arrested and detained without trial under the ISA, including three very articulate critics, the Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang, political scientist Dr. Chandra Muzaffar and leading lawyer Karpal Singh. The official reason for the arrests was that a highly dangerous security situation had arisen but this has been strongly disputed as nothing more than a shameless fabrication. The broad sweep included even environmentalists and Consumer Association spokesmen. Four of the most outspoken newspapers -The Star, The Sunday Star, Watan and Sin Chew Jit Poh – had their publishing licences suspended. When, after five months, the papers were free to publish again, they were no longer the same.

Mahathir’s next move was to push through Parliament far-reaching amendments to the Constitution so that the Executive gained in power enormously at the expense of the Judiciary. There was general indignation at this rude behaviour which shocked a good many people. The indecent haste and the fact that the amendments were made at a time when the Government’s main critics were in detention, including the Opposition Leader and six vocal MPs and outspoken newspapers demoralized added further to the appalling injustice of the situation. Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s beloved first Prime Minister, put it succinctly: “It was legal, but was it just?” Others noted angrily that the Constitution had been raped once again. In a speech, the outgoing President of the Bar Council, Param Cumaraswamy, said:

“The Prime Ministe’s vile and contemptuous allegations, and the accusations levelled at the Judiciary and our judges left many shocked beyond belief. His speech which was full of venom, hate and spite with no substance whatsoever, illustrated his complete and total ignorance of the role of the Judiciary and the judicial process itself. He has indeed defiled and defaced the Constitution. It is surprising that those 142 MPs who voted in favour, after taking the oath that they would preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, had no compunction about destroying one of its basic structures.”

One visiting parliamentarian was astonished at the lack of public debate. In his own country, he said, such amendments would have taken years.

Next, after having curbed the independence of the Judiciary, Mahathir set about destroying its integrity. This was the removal of Tun Salleh Abas as Lord President in 1988, a move which Tunku Abdul Rahman described as “the most shocking story in modern legal and judicial history,”

Tun Salleh Abas was a man of humble origins – his father was a sailor and small village trader – who rose to become Lord President, the highest judge in the land and head of the Judiciary while remaining a deeply religious man.

By March 1988, Mahathir’s scandalous and violent public attacks on the Judiciary had so provoked the judges that Tun Salleh was obliged to call a conference. Twenty judges met in the Supreme Court one week after the debilitating and shameful Constitutional amendments were made. By unanimous agreement, a letter was drafted to the King (also the Sultan of Johore) and copied to all Sultans, expressing disquiet over various comments made by the Prime Minister. The letter was delivered on 25 March and Tun Salleh left soon after for medical treatment in the United States followed by a pilgrimage to Mecca. He had a most important duty to perform upon his return: he fixed the hearing of the crucial UMNO Eleven appeal for June and, because of its overwhelming significance, decided that a full coram of nine Supreme Court judges should hear this. Three days later, Tun Salleh was suspended from his official capacity by the King on recommendation of the Prime Minister. In the same hour that he received the suspension letter, the Acting Lord President, Tan Sri Abdul Hamid took the UMNO Eleven case out of the calendar so that the link between the two was difficult to deny.

Tun Salleh’s suspension came after he refused to bow to Mahathir’s pressure to either resign or retire, even though financial inducements were offered, including mention of a lucrative job in the International Development Bank in Jeddah. The initial reason given for the suspension was that the King had taken great displeasure over the letter Tun Salleh had written on behalf of all judges. According to official records prepared by the Attorney General, the King had requested Tun Salleh’s removal in an audience with the Prime Minister on the “Wednesday morning of 1 May 1988” after the weekly Cabinet Meeting.

There are serious doubts as to whether this audience actually took place. The first of May 1988 fell on a Sunday, not Wednesday as the Attorney General recorded. Even if the day of week were corrected, there can be no Cabinet meeting on a Sunday. That the King expressed great displeasure only on 1 May, when he had in fact received the letter on 25 March cast further doubt over this assertion. It is difficult to believe that the King wanted Tun Salleh removed purely because he had protested about the public insults directed against the entire Judiciary by the head of the Executive. In any event, royal displeasure would not be a constitutionally valid ground for dismissal. Indeed, Mahathir advised the King as much in a letter written four days after this probably fictitious audience; however, the Prime Minister went further in the same letter to say that he would investigate Tun Salleh for any evidence of misbehaviour. In any event, the King did not clear up the mystery and, in an audience with Tun Salleh, actually asked the latter to step down without giving reasons although the Conference of Rulers had already asked for his reinstatement. Amazingly, Tun Salleh was suspended and a Tribunal set up to determine his fate before any formal charges were laid.

The Constitution does not provide for the removal of a Lord President. While the Tribunal need not be an inappropriate means, its composition was to say the least, disgraceful. It was composed of six acting and retired judges, although the Constitution required an odd number to prevent deadlock. Of these -four from Malaysia, one from Sri Lanka and one from Singapore -only the Sri Lankan enjoyed a rank comparable to Tun Salleh’s. This was contrary to the very reasonable dictum that one should be tried by one’s peers rather than one’s juniors. The fact that two retired Lord Presidents of Malaysia were available but not invited was glaring. There were grave conflicts of interest with three of the Malaysian judges that should have disqualified them from sitting: Tan Sri Abdul Hamid who was next in line to succeed as Lord President and who had also participated in the conference of 20 judges which resulted in the letter to the King; Tan Sri Zahir who, being also the Speaker of the Lower House, was beholden to Mahathir, the principal complainant in the matter at hand; and Tan Sri Abdul Aziz who, although a former judge, was then a practising lawyer and, more incredibly, had two suits pending against him at that time. But Tun Salleh’s objections were ignored and when the Bar Council issued a statement calling for the Tribunal to be re-constituted, both the New Straits Times and The Star refused to publish it. Further, it was decided that the Tribunal would sit in closed sessions although Tun Salleh had requested a public hearing.

The charges, when finally published, were manifestly absurd. Running over 12 sheets of paper, it was clear that quantity had been substituted where quality was lacking, and some of them actually related to Tun Salleh’s behaviour after suspension. Many of them related to his speeches and press interviews, whereby sinister meanings were imputed to various innocuous comments that he had made. To cite an instance, in a speech at the University of Malaya, he had said: “The role of the courts is very important to bring about public order. If there is no public order there will be chaos in this country and if there is chaos, no one can feel safe” On this basis, Tun Salleh was charged with making statements criticizing the Government which displayed prejudice and bias against the latter. Another statement of his, “In a democratic system, the courts play a prominent role as agent of stability but they can perform this function only if judges are trusted,” resulted in the charge that he had ridiculed the Government by imputing that it did not trust the judges. These charges were doubly ludicrous in the light of Mahathir’s many poisonous attacks against the Judiciary.

It is not surprising that Tun Salleh, after reading this catalogue of fantasy crimes, refused to appear before what was so evidently a kangaroo court. The Tribunal, after refusing representations made by Raja Aziz, Tun Salleh’s leading counsel, that it had no constitutional validity to sit, chose instead to proceed so hastily that it wound up deliberations, including the examination of witnesses with just four hours work. As it prepared to issue its Report, Tun Salleh’s lawyers sought an urgent stay of proceedings in the High Court. This would normally be granted immediately at the least possibility that an injustice may be about to be done but, here, events turned into utter farce.

Instead of immediately reaching a decision as expected, the presiding judge, Datuk Ajaib Singh, after the court had been in languorous session the whole day that Friday, adjourned hearings for 9.30 am the next day. On Saturday however, the judge emerged in court only at 11.50 am and, even then, postponed hearings again for the Monday! In desperation, Tun Salleh’s lawyers, knowing that the Tribunal could easily release its Report before then, sought the assistance of Supreme Court judge, Tan Sri Wan Suleiman, in his Chambers. The latter agreed to hear them in open court in half an hour’s time and called a coram of all remaining Supreme Court, one of whom, Tan Sri Hashim Yeop, refused to sit. The soap opera reached an apogee of ridiculousness when Tan Sri Abdul Hamid, head of the Tribunal and Acting Lord President, gave orders for the doors of Supreme Court to be locked and for the seal of the Supreme Court to be secreted away!

Undeterred, the five Supreme Court judges ordered the policeman on duty to open the door forthwith. After less than half an hour, the Court ordered the Tribunal not to submit any recommendation, report or advice to the King. Tun Salleh’s lawyers were typing the Order to serve personally to the Tribunal at Parliament House when news arrived that the gates of Parliament House had been locked! At this point, Justice Wan Suleiman rose to the occasion and, calling the office of the Inspector General of Police, told a senior officer that any impediment to serving the Order would constitute contempt of court. The gates of Parliament swung open and, at 4 pm, Raja Aziz and his team served the Order to the Tribunal members who were found to be still hard at work on a word-processor that Saturday afternoon. All six members accepted service without complaint.

It would appear that justice had at last prevailed but, four days later, all five Supreme Court judges were suspended. Almost every rule that was broken to suspend Tun Salleh was broken again to suspend them. The prohibition order they had made were revoked within days. A second Tribunal eventually reinstated three of the judge: Tan Sri Azmi Kamaruddin, Tan Sri Eusoff Abdoolcader and Tan Sri Wan Hamzah but Tan Sri Wan Suleiman and Datuk George Edward Seah were removed from office.

The UMNO Eleven case was quickly dismissed. The removal of Tun Salleh also saw the resignation of Deputy PM Datuk Musa Hitam who, according to popular wisdom, could no longer stomach Mahathir’s ways.

source: “May Day For Justice”

11
Nov
08

The day justice prevailed

Change has come to Malaysia!
by Martin Jalleh
(MJ from the Shah Alam Court)

It was a very moving moment in time – one which your memory will forever hold and behold. I had thought that we only get to see this in a Disney movie. But it was happening right in a courtroom in Bolehland today (7 Nov. 2008).

The packed courtroom of Raja Petra (RPK) supporters could not contain their joy. They clapped and burst out into cries of excitement and elation even before Justice Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad could finish delivering his judgment.

They were gently reprimanded by the judge that they were in a Court of Law. But for some it was impossible to be silent. You can’t be restrained when it is such a great and glorious victory! And so they whispered: “We have won! We have won! RPK is free!”

The judge ruled that the detention of RPK under the ISA was illegal (unconstitutional) and ordered his immediate release. The court found the (Home) minister had not followed proper procedure under Section 8 of the ISA.

As the judge left for his chambers, everyone sprung up…some with their clenched fists raised high in the air – speechless. Others grabbed the nearest person available to express their elation whether it be a stranger, supporter or Special Branch.

“Yes, yes, yes!” proclaimed Angela from Seremban who has attended every RPK-related court case with her son. Yes, justice is done; yes, the truth always wins; yes, let us continue the good fight!

“God bless the judge…What a brave judge! I hope nothing will happen to him and they won’t transfer him elsewhere…” a man who identified himself as Lim declared to his friends.

A visibly moved Ignatius Gomez, who was present with his wife and daughter to “lend our voices and presence to any movement that works towards the abolishment of the ‘barbaric’ ISA” proclaimed loudly: “Justice has prevailed!”

A Brave woman

Marina was moved to tears. She hugged their two daughters, Suraya and Sarah – who have been her sturdy support and who have kept a very brave smile for their mother in the long struggle for their father’s freedom.

Without any hesitation Marina reached out next in deep appreciation to RPK’s lawyers – a team of young, dedicated, daring, diligent and determined attorneys who, time and again, won the admiration and acknowledgement of everyone. Lead lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar’s brilliance and humility in court will remain etched in the memory of many.

In fact, the team, together with other lawyers who had come to show their support, adorned in their court attire, and in all their distinguished shapes and sizes, abandoned their stoic and sage-like disposition and spontaneously hugged each other. Alas, lawyers are human too!

Some of the supporters sat still and smiled to themselves. It was a judgment they found too difficult to believe! Or they wanted to relish the moment and watched, enthralled by the unreserved show of emotion of the rest.

The doors of the courtroom swung open. Marina came out of the court and as the sea of people stood behind, she thanked each and everyone who had played an unique and vital role to get her husband free.

Surely each person, for having stood up for justice, served as a tiny “ripple”, that when put together, made up that giant wave of change that no person (definitely not the Home Minister) nor the powers that be could stop.

Fighting back the tears Marina said: “Though I was hopeful I had not expected the decision. This is a very good sign that our country is changing and I hope that this change will continue…”

“I want to thank the lawyers, the supporters, the bloggers, the reporters…I am so overwhelmed by the decision that I am short of words….Thanks to the judge for his very courageous decision.”

The “celebration” continued on in the court’s foyer. It was only the beginning. The judge had ordered that RPK be brought (from Kamunting) before the court by 4pm, after which he would be released.

Free at last!

It was time for lunch, but none seemed hungry anymore. I followed a group of RPK supporters many of whom I was meeting for the first time. Robert Choo, a retired college lecturer told everyone: “Lunch is on me. Order anything you want. Very rarely do we get such a brave judgment!”

The diversity was amazing. It was a multi-racial group with ages ranging from 16 to 60 years. We were all middle-class. Except for the self-employed, the rest had to take leave to be in court. The group was predominantly women…very vocal ones too!

As I listened intently I realized the conversation was different from the usual. It was not centred on our obsession with food. They spoke about the candlelight vigils in Seremban, PJ and Ipoh . They shared their fears that RPK would be rearrested and what they could do to prevent it!

What made them want to attend the court case? What motivated them to take the risk? Why did they want to exchange a very comfortable and consumeristic existence for an involvement that is often thankless and even looked upon by the majority as being “stupid”?

It was much more than just giving support to RPK. They were angry with the arrogance and abuse of the BN government. They were fed up of being treated like kids and of a government trying to fool all the people all the time.

They expressed their disgust over desperate politicians playing the religious and racial card and gambling the country away. They looked forward to a new government of integrity, credibility and accountability.

They felt that it was time to take a stand, to say and do something, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant…like just by being present in court – even though at times they found it hard to comprehend what was going on!

They realized they were not alone…and their growing solidarity has helped them to soldier on. They spoke of their proud association with Harris Ibrahim, Bernard Khoo and a host of frontline exemplary leaders. They saw in each other a comrade for justice and they displayed an obvious synergy that has freed them from the culture of fear.

Finally, the moment came – the man of the hour appeared…looking tired and even in a daze, still stunned by the court’s decision. As soon as he left the warm embrace of his wife and children, his supporters mobbed and moved him all the way into the courtroom!

Justice Syed Ahmad Helmy ordered RPK to be released. He thanked the lawyers of both sides for their professionalism. The crowd stood in deep respect and reverence as the brave judge left the courtroom.

They garlanded their hero. There was another round of hugs. Some looked up to the heavens in prayerful thanksgiving. Tears flowed freely in celebration of the freedom of one who cared and dared enough to write so that others may be free.

Raja Petra looked as though he was “holding court” on the front steps of the Shah Alam Court. No fetters could extinguish the fire and fervour in the man. It fact, it had fanned the flame in him: “”We have to fight all-out and get the ISA abolished!”

The peerless Patriot and Prince was fittingly driven away in a red Rolls Royce. As his supporters parted, it was obvious that they were not going to rest on their laurels. They were already talking of meeting in the candlelight vigils in Seremban and PJ.

It was truly a historic day of hugs, heart and hope. In contrast to the cavalier attitude of Syed Hamid in the recent ISA arrests, there was the calibre and courage of Syed Ahmad Helmy, a glimmer of hope in the judiciary.

Compared to the arrogance of the Umno-dominated government which believes that might is right, there was the humility of ordinary citizens who achieved the extraordinary in their multi-racial solidarity!

The Home Minister wants to appeal the judge’s decision – which he claims he respects! We understand. Umno’s internal security is threatened and it is rapidly losing its appeal. Further Syed Hamid wants to be very “appealing”, he is standing in the coming Umno elections.

Former de facto Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim has said that Umno cannot change. And as can be seen from last night’s Anti-ISA gathering when the “uncivilized” police ran riot in the Petaling Jaya Civic Centre, the Police cannot change. They will continue to be arrogant.

Our hope for change lies in the rakyat. The people’s involvement in the process that resulted in RPK being free confirms this.

…source

10
Nov
08

Real reason for dismissal of judges – Malaysiakini

(ref: Malaysiakini report, “Zaid: PM had agreed for non-disclosure”, http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/92775)

In the above report, Zaid Ibrahim said that if the ex gratia payment amounts paid to the judges involved in the 1988 judicial crisis were revealed, the government is also duty-bound to reveal the real reasons for their dismissals and suspensions.

However, it is rather unlikely that the government would bother to enlighten Malaysians further about the 1988 judicial crisis even though the current de facto Law Minister, Nazri Aziz was unusually forthcoming in revealing the amounts paid to the judges in Parliament. Revealing the amounts without further clarifications seems to be an attempt to discredit Zaid Ibrahim and the PM and at the same time casting the judges concerned in bad light.

Perhaps we could get some insight on the dismissal of the judges from the following notes revealed by Tun Salleh Abas in 2006 where he described what happened during a private meeting with the former PM, Mahathir Mohamad before he was dismissed by the tribunal.

In the meeting, Mahathir told the shocked Salleh Abas to resign as Lord President or face a tribunal. Salleh refused to resign. Mahathir then set up a special tribunal which tried Salleh on charges of misconduct and for questioning constitutional amendments eroding the powers of the judiciary. Salleh was then sacked.

Two of the five supreme court judges who had ruled that the tribunal was convened unconstitutionally were also sacked after being found guilty of misconduct by another tribunal.

When I arrived at the Prime Minister’s Department I was met by a policeman who took me by lift to a waiting room. After waiting for about two or three minutes, I was shown into the Prime Minister’s Office by an officer, whom I did not recognise. There I found YAB Perdana Menteri (then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad) seated at his table with YAB Encik Ghafar Baba, Timbalan Perdana Menteri (then deputy prime minister) and Tan Sri Sallehuddin Mohamed, Ketua Setiausaha Negara (the then chief secretary to the government) seated at the same table opposite the Prime Minister. When I entered the room I gave the Prime Minister and the others my salam very loudly and he replied my salam. (Peace be on You).

After I had taken my seat, the Prime Minister told me that he had an unpleasant duty to perform and on being asked what it was, he replied that he had been asked by (the then) DYMM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang Di Pertuan Agong to tell me that I should step down. I then expressed my surprise in an Islamic way saying “Glory to God, who is free from any partnership.” Then I asked him for the reasons and in reply he said that he was not prepared to argue with me, but finally he said the reason was that I had written a letter to DYMM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang Di Pertuan Agong regarding the state of relationship between the Judiciary and the Executive. I told him that I wrote the letter simply because Judges, at a meeting on 25 March 1988, had informed me that they were very concerned about the present situation and asked to express their views through me. YAB Perdana Menteri then said that I made speeches indicating that I am biased and I am not qualified to sit in UMNO cases. I told him that I said nothing of that and the speeches I had made only dealt with the criticisms levelled at the Judiciary. I am not at all biased or bipartisan in political matters. While all this was going on, YAB Encik Ghafar Baba kept his head down while Tan Sri Sallehuddin was writing in a note book, which he was then holding.

When finally I said I would not resign, he told me that if I stepped down I would be given everything that I was entitled to. I told him that I was entitled to nothing since I was not yet 60. Obviously, he was surprised when told I was not 60 yet. Finally, he said that if I did not step down he would institute a Judicial Tribunal with a view to removing me. I told him I would not resign because if I did, I could not show my face to anyone and I might as well die.

He said that I could see the Agong if I wanted to and he would not stop me from doing so.

I told him that I would not be resigning and he could do what he pleased with me, including going ahead with the Tribunal. As there was nothing else to discuss, I finally said “Datuk, I should not waste anybody’s time”, and I shook his hand, also Encil Ghafar Baba’s and Tan Sri Sallehuddin’s. None of these three looked me right in my face and I could detect Encik Ghafar Baba was strangely silent and Tan Sri Sallehuddin only caught me by the side of his eyes but he too appeared to be subdued.

The Prime Minister himself, from the beginning to the end, did not even look me in the eye. He was looking down at his table all the time.

I left his room and I only saw one policeman outside his room who appeared surprised to see me there. When I went downstairs there was nobody even to see me off and no one called for my driver. I had to go out to look for my driver.

My future is tied up with the fate of this country. I come from an unknown family and I have reached the top of my profession. I have no desire to leave until I have reached the age of 65 like my predecessors, except the Sultan of Perak, who vacated the job because of a call of duty to be the Ruler of Perak. I leave my fate to the judgment of Allah and as it is Friday, I wish to quote the Quran, which says, “No misfortune will fall on us except what has been decreed by Allah. He is our protector and in whom the believers should place their trust.” This passage from the Quran struck my heart as I entered the door of the Prime Minister’s Office and it remained with me during the course of our discussion till the end, and to my exit from his room.

…source

10
Nov
08

Home Minister should resign for abuse of power

(ref: Malaysiakini report, “Gov’t to appeal RPK release”)

After Raja Petra was released by the High Court on Friday 7 Nov 2008, it was reported here that,

“The Home Ministry will not dispute the decision of the court to release blogger Raja Petra Raja Kamarudin from detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA), said its minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar.”

However, in a quick flip-flop it is reported on 9 Nov 2008 that the Home Minister said his ministry would direct the A-G to appeal against the decision. Isn’t this disputing the decision of the court? Isn’t this showing no respect to the court’s decision?

The Home Minister also said, “We need to find out how the court interpreted the home minister’s discretionary power”. If this is all he wants, why doesn’t he just read the court’s judgement. He doesn’t have to waste taxpayers’ money to go through the whole appeal process to get information about the court’s decision.

In releasing RPK the High Court judge has ruled that (see statement by Aliran below):

– the courts could hear an application for judicial review of ISA cases if there were instances of possible abuse of powers
– the Home Minister had failed to follow “proper procedure under Section 8 of the ISA to issue the detention order against Raja Petra.”
– the judge had found that there was abuse of power by the minister in issuing his detention order
– the judge had stated that “the minister cannot simply detain someone. He must be confined to the circumstances stated.”

While the Home Minister may have the right to ask for an appeal against the High Court ruling, Malaysians also have the right to call for the resignation of the Home Minister for abusing his powers in detaining RPK under the ISA.

Minister should resign for abusing his powers
08 November 2008 – Aliran

Judge Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad of the Shah Alam High Court joins the ranks of the brave – who unfortunately are not many – in ruling that the detention of Raja Petra Kamarudin under the Internal Security Act was illegal and unconstitutional. His detention was procedurally flawed in that the minister (pic left) had failed to follow “proper procedure under Section 8 of the ISA to issue the detention order against Raja Petra.”

The good judge had stated that “Section 8(b) of the ISA indicated that those issued with the detention order by the minister might not be allowed for judicial review. However, the court could hear such an application if there were instances of possible abuse of powers.” This is a very significant observation. In scrutinising the detention order – without glossing over it as some judges are wont to do – he had found that there was abuse of power by the minister in issuing his detention order. This is a very serious offence.

Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar is not a lay person but a lawyer by training. Of all the persons he should be the one well placed to understand the law, its requirement and its implication. Indeed he gave the impression that he understood the ISA better than others when he said, “Please read (the provisions of) the act.” This was his response to criticisms regarding the detention of Suaram secretary Cheng Lee Whee in Johor Bahru on 17 October 2008. The question arises: How could a man so well versed and conversant with the ISA have committed such a terrible sin? Doesn’t he realise that when dealing with the freedom and human rights of human beings he is duty-bound to exercise extreme care to ensure that those rights are not simply trampled upon.

This courageous judge freed Raja Petra because the minister had acted beyond the scope of Section 8 (1) of the ISA. The judge had boldly stated that “the minister cannot simply detain someone. He must be confined to the circumstances stated.”

But the fact is many citizens have been “simply detained” and consequently languish in Kamunting because we have some judges who do not bother to look at the circumstances stated. If a conscientious judge were to take another look at all the detention orders, Aliran is of the view that the facts would reveal that many had been detained illegally and unconstitutionally. Take for example the Hidraf Five. They have been accused of having connections with the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka without providing an iota of evidence being made public to substantiate this grave allegation. This allegation was made simply to portray them as terrorists so that they could be detained under the ISA as posing a security threat to the country. It would be interesting to find out if the minister had “confined to the circumstances stated” in detaining them under the ISA.

We are encouraged by what has taken place yesterday, Friday, 7 October 2008. Two precedent-setting decisions were delivered. One concerned the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court where judge S M Komathy refused to be brow-beaten into transferring Anwar’s sodomy case to the High Court. That was a great decision. The other concerns Raja Petra’s ISA detention, which the Shah Alam High Court ruled as illegal and unconstitutional. Whether the much talked about reformation takes place or not, as long as we have serving judges of conscience of the calibre of Syed Ahmad and Komathy, there will always be hope. They will put the crooks and those without a conscience in the judiciary to shame.

…source

RPK’s rearrest under ISA – Cabinet/Parliament must overrule Hamid
9 Nov 2008 – blog.limkitsiang.com

Home Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar’s announcement in Kota Kinabalu last night that the Home Ministry will appeal against the Shah Alam High Court decision on Friday to free Malaysia Today website editor Raja Petra Kamaruddin from detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) is most deplorable and reprehensible.

It shows Hamid’s utter contempt for the fundamental concept of the rule of law and the most rudimentary commitment to human rights in the country.

In ordering Raja Petra’s release after a 56-day ISA detention, Shah Alam High Court judge Justice Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad ruled in the blogger’s habeas corpus application that the Home Minister acted outside his powers in detaining Raja Petra under the ISA, as the grounds given for Raja Petra’s detention were insufficient rendering the ISA detention unlawful.

Syed Ahmad Helmy held that although Section 8 of the ISA on the detention order by the minister barred judicial review, there was a procedural non-compliance by the Minister resulting in an “ultra vires” order.

As illustration, the judge gave the example that the minister cannot act in bad faith to detain a person who decided to colour his hair red.

In actual fact, Hamid acted mala fide in a very substantive manner in issuing a detention order under Section 8 of the ISA late in the night of September 22 not because Raja Petra constituted a threat to national security but to frustrate the administration of justice and the rule of law by “killing off” Raja Petra’s earlier habeas corpus application.

…more

07
Nov
08

RPK’s detention unlawful, released today!

(ref: Malaysiakini’s “Raja Petra freed following court ruling” – http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/92620)

Many Malaysians are jubilant with the amazing decision made by the High Court today to release Raja Petra.

The judge ruled that the reasons given for detaining RPK were insufficient and the Home Minister has acted outside his powers in having him arrested under the ISA. RPK’s arrest is unlawful and the judge ordered his immediate release.

RPK was brought from Kamunting to the High Court this afternoon and was released at about 3.30 p.m. He was garlanded and was driven away with his wife Marina in a Rolls Royce!

RPK Freed
(courtesy of anilnetto.com)

Malaysian court orders blogger to be freed
7 Nov 2008 – CNN.com

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A Malaysian court ordered the editor of an anti-government news Web site released from detention Friday, ruling that his arrest under a law allowing indefinite incarceration was unlawful, a lawyer said.

Shah Alam High Court Justice Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad ruled that the home minister acted outside his powers in having Raja Petra Kamaruddin arrested September 12 for allegedly causing racial tensions, said Raja Petra’s lawyer, Malik Imtiaz Sarwar.

“It’s a historic ruling and definitely a wonderful step in terms of civil liberties in Malaysia,” Malik Imtiaz said.

He quoted the judge as saying the grounds given for Raja Petra’s detention were insufficient and his arrest under the Internal Security Act was unlawful.

The ISA allows the government to detain anyone for an initial two-year period without charges and to extend the detention indefinitely.

Raja Petra, who was accused of threatening public security and causing racial tension by publishing writings that ridiculed Islam in this Muslim-majority country, was to be taken to court later Friday to be formally set free.

It’s not the first time that a court has ordered the release of ISA detainees, and the ruling also does not prevent the government from rearresting him under the ISA. The government can also appeal the ruling.

Raja Petra, 58, has increasingly infuriated authorities by publishing numerous claims about alleged wrongdoing by government leaders on his highly popular site, Malaysia Today. The government has denounced most of Raja Petra’s allegations as lies.

He is also on trial in a separate case, having been accused of sedition by implying that Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak was involved in the murder of a Mongolian woman. Raja Petra denies the allegation. If convicted, he faces up to three years in jail.

…more




Nuclear lessons for Malaysia (Part 1) (Part 2)
BN govt is directing attention to distant past and distant future, in order to distract people from present misdeeds and poor governance
Felda - A picture is worth a thousand words
How the 1MDB Scandal Spread Across the World (WSJ)
We cannot afford ridiculously expensive RM55 Billion ECRL!
All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
when the government
fears the people,
there is LIBERTY.

- Thomas Jefferson
Do you hear the people sing?

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