In sympathy with Matthias Chang

By Martin Jalleh
(Martin Jalleh (MJ) responds to a letter purportedly written by Matthias Chang (MC) before he chose to go to jail after being charged for contempt of court by the Kuala Lumpur High Court.)

MC: Message from Matthias Chang. To My Dearest Friends and Colleagues

MJ: Dear Matthias, I was shocked that you have been charged for contempt of court. You must in synergy with your former boss who was most contemptuous of the courts!

MC: I have fought against injustice throughout my life and as a practising lawyer

MJ: Perhaps it would be more accurate to say throughout your pre-political-secretary life? The rest of your life you have been faithfully fighting for your former Master, Mahathir.

MC: …upholding justice when there are abuses by the judiciary

MJ: Alas, these abuses began when your former boss sacked the judiciary in 1988 and it has never recovered since then.

MC: and the state machinery calls for sacrifices

MJ: You mean, when Dr M made the judiciary part of the State and it began sacrificing justice at the altar of political expediency?

MC: and I have never shirked from that call to duty.

MJ: Indeed you were the epitome and great exemplar of subservience, an errand boy whom the Master would one day turn into a public figure extraordinaire!

MC: On Thursday, I became a victim of injustice inflicted by an errant Judge in the High Court of Malaya.

MJ: You were warned of the growing existence of “errant” and “corrupt” judges but you insisted there was “no proof”. Anyone who linked the rot in the judiciary to your Master, was challenged to an open debate. I guess there is no need of such duels anymore.

MC: In this case, I was the litigant, the plaintiff suing the defendant…(letter continues)

MC: Most of you are aware of my opposition to the previous regime headed by the 5th Prime Minister. (Letter continues.)

MJ: Pak Lah opened the floodgates to further and new revelations by Salleh Abbas, Param Cumarasamy, Ian Chin, Syed Ahmad Idid, Jayanti Naidu (the former secretary of Lingam) that drowned whatever remained of Dr M’s integrity and credibility when it came to the judiciary.

When Anwar released the V.K. Lingam video clip, you called him a “convicted criminal” whose “lies and allegations must be exposed”. Ironically, the Royal Commission of Inquiry “exposed” the authenticity of the tape and that tampering (fixing) in the appointment of judges did take place. It recommended that an appropriate course of action be taken against six individuals, Dr M being one of them! Your former boss was left licking his wounds! Fortunately, you being his personal boot licker was always there for him.

MC: I counter-claimed against that crony likewise for defamation against me and exposed his corruption in conjunction with the son-in-law of the then Prime Minister, Abdullah Badawi. My defence against the RM 50 million claim was justification, the crony was corrupt to the rotten core. The case has been in limbo ever since.

MJ: Many cases and even police reports against BN leaders (especially during Dr M’s reign) were in limbo. Lame and laughable excuses were given. What a legacy your former Master left behind!

MC: Therefore, this case that came up for hearing is not as simple as it looks.

MJ: Many cases like the sacking of Salleh Abbas and two other judges and the jailing of Anwar Ibrahim were not as simple as they looked, though you trivialised them and mocked those who suffered from the injustice.

MC: There were forces ready to pounce and humiliate me at every turn.

MJ: Just like how Dr M used the judiciary, to harass and humiliate Anwar in the sodomy-turned-corruption and sodomy (I) cases? His legacy continues on in the latest sodomy case or circus.

MC: From the word go, my three Counsels were treated without due respect. My Counsel was denied the right to make an Opening Statement, a right which every litigant has.

MJ: At least you got your case heard. Some cases have been thrown out on the slightest and tenuous technicalities. Further, never go to court insisting on your rights. What you need is a “right” judge.

MC: I was called to testify immediately…(letter continues) the judge pounced on me and declared everyone before her court will be treated equally and I had no need to declare my past and or the need to “impress” her. She further said that “so what if I was previously the political secretary to the Prime Minister and a senior lawyer of over 30 years experience.”

MJ: Since Dr M “took over” the judiciary, good reputation amongst judges has become almost extinct, so much so it is something the judges no longer look for in witnesses! As for respect and recognition that comes with years of service and experience, even in the judiciary the more senior and experienced judges are shunned, shoved and shelved. Only judges who are ready to bow, bend and do the bidding at the Master’s behest will be bountifully rewarded.

MC: My Counsel objected and told her that…(letter continues)

MC: The Judge resumed the hearing in Open Court, whereupon I addressed the Court and said: “(letter continues)….In my over 30 years of practice, no judge has ever abused me and or was rude to me. I intend to make a complaint to the Chief Justice and would now take leave and retire.”

MJ: Don’t waste your time with the CJ, Matthias. He has been as silent as the grave even after the respected retired Justice NH Chan found certain judges in the appellate courts to be a “bunch of idiots”!

MC: (Letter continues)

MC: The Judge incited by that lawyer (for the defendant), directed the police officer in attendance to arrest me and place me in custody in the Lock-up at the basement of the Court Complex. The professionalism of the police officer was such that he did not handcuff me, but merely invited me to follow him…(letter continues)

MJ: Luckily they kept you at the basement and not on some top floor! Luckily you had such a professional officer and not the nation’s top cop who beat up Anwar to near death, and whose severe injuries were dismissed by a less-than-a-human-being as being “self-inflicted”.

MC: Point to note: in accordance with Malaysian law, I had not committed any crime at that stage to warrant any arrest, more so one instigated by a lawyer…

MJ: “Malaysian law”? What’s that? This country only knows of Umno’s law and rule by law or the PM’s laws and his orders!

MC: (Letter continues) I immediately called my friend and fellow colleague, Mr. Zainur Zakaria…

MJ: Zainur would understand. He was found guilty of the contempt of court by the late Augustine Paul (AP) in a case related to the corruption trial of Anwar. The Federal Court described AP as one who “was behaving as though he was acting as counsel for the two prosecutors in the motion” and “should have been the last person to deal with the contempt issue”.

MJ: In fact your former boss echoed the above, when he came to your defense in his blog: “One of the principles in law which is believed to ensure that justice is done is that disputes must be settled by a third party. No one (except Dr M?) should be the prosecutor, the judge and the executioner.”

MJ: Dr M ventured further: “In several recent cases an accused person has demanded that the judge recuse himself for being biased. Indeed we hear of an accused person demanding that the prosecutors be changed because of allegedly being bias. And in fact the persons concerned, who were only doing the work they had officially been tasked with, were not allowed to carry out their usual work.”

If Dr M was referring to Anwar in the latest sodomy case, he got his facts wrong. The prosecutors were allowed to continue their “usual work” of ensuring that there would be penetrating evidence that Anwar goes to jail, and the judge refused to recuse himself from the judicial circus!

MC: (Letter continues)

MC: THIS SUMS UP WHAT HAS TRANSPIRED. The judicial system is rotten

MJ: You mean to say it took you so long to make such a conclusion!

MC: …but I had in the past tried to reform by working within the system

MJ: You can’t undo what your former Master did to the judiciary! Anwar and Zaid Ibrahim tried and failed! Strange we can’t recall any significant attempts of judicial reform on your part.

MC: and held back my open criticisms.

MJ: It appears you are suffering from the same self-inflicted selective amnesia of your former Master.

MC: I never expected to be a victim of the system.

MJ: The “system” which you worked for? Alas, our injustice can boomerang on us one day!

If this can happen to me, what more the poor and or unrepresented litigant.

MJ: You do not have to worry about them. They are quite familiar with the “system”. You only have to make sure you do not futher contribute to the system!

MC: It seems that there have been many cases of abuse by this Judge but the Chief Justice did not take any action.

MJ: Pity though that the judge cannot defend herself. But I must say that she is a rather brave judge to take you on and send you to jail! Perhaps you have finally met your match!


MJ: Thank God for your family support, for many feel you deserve to be in the pit which your former Master had dug a long time ago, with your faithful assistance of course. Foreign support for you has also increased though some Malaysians feel foreigners should not interfere with a local issue! Sounds familiar?

MC: (Letter continues)

MC: The public would be confused and may even think that I was indeed wrong in opposing the abuse. They may also be cowed in the future in any opposition to similar abuse.

MJ: The public has got used to fighting against a rotten judiciary for so long. We are in fact very concerned about you who have been very confused and cowed!

MC: I am therefore preparing myself to go to jail and hopefully, my incarceration would arouse the conscience of the people to stand up and fight against an injustice. An action that has been DELAYED FOR TOO LONG.

MJ: We do not need such “arousal” Matthias. The fight for a free and fearless judiciary began the day after your former boss sacked the judiciary and sullied its reputation irreparably. Further, your incarceration and fast would definitely not be able to exorcise the judiciary of the “devil incarnate” (a name given by former judge Ian Chin to Dr M) whose harm and havoc still haunts the judiciary!

MJ: There are also those who feel that your fast is just a farce to make you famous. Not to worry, there were those who said the same of the jailed Anwar when he sought treatment for his neck and back problems. Surely you were not one amongst them?

MC: I appeal to all of you for your understanding and support and I seek your assistance that my plight be given the widest publicity as possible.

MJ: You can be assured of the support of many Malaysians who have always taken a stand and spoken out for justice. The only way the reputation of the judiciary can be restored and the rot got rid of, is to rally the nation towards a radical change – a change in government! I appeal to you for your understanding and support towards such a goal!

  1. #1 by bennylohstocks on Wednesday, 7 April 2010 - 10:00 am

  2. #2 by k1980 on Wednesday, 7 April 2010 - 11:01 am

    Don’t worry abt Mat Tyias….he’s enjoying life there with water bed, DVDs and dancing girls thrown in. Remember Abdollah Ang?

  3. #3 by frankyapp on Wednesday, 7 April 2010 - 11:15 am

    What he sows,he reaps. Indeed it’s a perfect example.

  4. #4 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Wednesday, 7 April 2010 - 11:33 am

    Poetic justice.

  5. #5 by k1980 on Wednesday, 7 April 2010 - 11:43 am

    MC: I have fought against injustice throughout my life and as a practising lawyer

    Really? What did you fight for when Kugan, TBH and Altan were annihilated? Stop lying or you will never get out of Serdang Hospital alive. Kugan, TBH and Altan are waiting for you on the bank of the River Styx

  6. #6 by DCLXVI on Wednesday, 7 April 2010 - 12:40 pm

    Sympathize with Matthias Chang?

    It’s like getting water from the moon…

  7. #7 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 7 April 2010 - 1:16 pm

    According to report of TheMalaysiaInsider April 7, 2010, Matthias (in his suit against American Express) “caused a stir in the Kuala Lumpur High Court when he suddenly walked out of the witness box while being cross-examined. According to a lawyer who witnessed the commotion, Chang suddenly stood up and refused to answer further questions from the defence .The lawyer who asked not to be named said Chang started abusing trial judge, Justice Noor Azian Shaari, and accused her of bias and said he would lodge a complaint against her with Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi. He then said, ‘I’m going to walk out of court’,” said the lawyer. Noor Azian immediately ordered Chang remanded for “contempt in the face of court”, based on Article 52 of the Rules of the High Court 1980. Noor Azian told Chang that she would not cite him for contempt if he apologised for his earlier outburst but he refused.”I have nothing to say,” Chang told Noor Azian, in what was seen as another snub to the judge, when she asked if he had anything to say in his defence.”

    IF the above as reported were true, Matthias was cited for contempt because he conducted himself in manner that could be construed as evincing disrespect for or even contempt of the judge/court. One may ask, who would simply stand up from witness box and walk away without being formally excused by the judge when the opposite defence was in the midst of and had not finished their questioning???? – And accusing the judge of bias and saying he would lodge a complaint against her with Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi? Common lah! It is how one says it. Tun Dr Mahathir (TDM) said in his blog “in several recent cases an accused person has demanded that the judge recuse himself for being biased” – yes Matthias’s lawyers could make a formal but respectful application for the judge to recuse herself based on grounds of bias but did they? Matthias complained that the judge had refused to retract some derogatory remarks against his counsel in the civil suit when they attempted to draw her attention to the relevant laws but if so its strange his lawyers did not make a formal application of their being abused.
    What we see are Matthias’s walking out of witness box, arguing with the judge and telling her he would report her to Chief Justice. He could certainly have chosen a less theatrical or dramatic course of formally appealing, in accordance witrh procedures, against her decision citing the judge of having misconducted herself or bias.

    Contempt of Court is where one disrespects the chair/position of judge and by such conduct reduces all round decorum and respectability of the chair/position of judge to the extent making it difficult for the judge to conduct the trial in an orderly and expedient fashion. The case of walking out of the witness box before being excused by the judge and before the other side had asked all their questions certainly cannot help the cause of trial or its determination of justice by facts/law. (One also notes he was given an opportunity by the judge to apologise but he refused to take it).

    He said that as a matter of principle he was willing to be jailed to prove his point but we don’t see him going to jail for long. He went on hunger strike and was admitted to Serdang Hospital to begin serving his term).

    Regarding his complaint of unethical judiciary, and draconian feature of “Contempt of Court” we have not heard him protesting publicly against TDM or then Hamid being in contempt of Court as regards events leading to LP Salleh Abas and other judges’ removal in 1988. Even recently he did not protest against any of the judgments meted out on the Perak Constitutional crisis. Instead in June 2008 we heard about him lodging a police report against Justice Datuk Ian Chin’s statements in Court on 9th and 24th June 2008 which he alleged were unbecoming of a Judge and highly defamatory against his then boss TDM.

    So far its hard to try feel sympathy based on these circumstances. As far as I know the Malaysian Bar itself has so far not lodged a complaint to CJ Zaki on the side of its member on committal of Matthias. Maybe it too is unsure its member has merits on his side on this issue.

  8. #8 by Loh on Wednesday, 7 April 2010 - 1:31 pm

    The one month jail term was self-inflicted.

    I am glad that the case is widely publicised; otherwise I would not have the chance to feel happy of knowing the dog is receiving his deserved punishment. He thought that his old master would save him the jail term, through royal intervention. Hope again will you? The poor and the ordinary will not meet the same fate as somebody who thought he was glad just by being a good dog. He certainly had not learn that the fox thought he shared the attention when the spectators were looking at the tiger, the skunk, walking ahead of it.

  9. #9 by Counterpoint on Wednesday, 7 April 2010 - 2:08 pm

    If all this happened during the Mamakthir’s time, the one who’d be writing the ‘cry baby’ piece before going to jail would be that judge instead. She would most probably be writing about how an errant lawyer can wield so much power.

    Talking about crying and crying wolf in particular, Matthias, you really got it right this time, you are really going to jail ! I believe you.

    But symphatise with you? You got to be kidding right?

  10. #10 by k1980 on Wednesday, 7 April 2010 - 3:02 pm

    Patience, Mat Tyias. Your mamak boss is assembling a squad of special commandos to spring you out from jail. They will probably do so in 2030. So in the meantime, rot, baby, rot.

  11. #11 by boh-liao on Thursday, 8 April 2010 - 1:06 am

    He must b in a state of delirium, thinking dat MMK is still controlling our judiciary system n hence believing dat he is invincible n could simply walk out
    He tot d judge was another Augustine P dat he could abuse as he pleased

  12. #12 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 8 April 2010 - 3:48 am

    He has indeed learned well from the Master on how to effectively generate controversy and get public notoriety.

  13. #13 by johnnypok on Friday, 9 April 2010 - 7:27 am

    How come your mamak balls no come and rescue U?

  14. #14 by Loh on Saturday, 10 April 2010 - 9:34 am

    The dog has started eating after the master said that it is a bit early for him to die now. See, he has lost his right to die, if he had that intention.

  15. #15 by Loh on Saturday, 10 April 2010 - 1:15 pm

    ///However, an application for a discharge order was rejected by High Court judge Noor Azlan Shaari on grounds that such an application could not be made by a third party.///-

    Somebody paid the ringgit 20,000 to the court and accepted by the court. Good for the country’s treasury.

    The High Court judge is absolutely right. The source of money to pay the fine is immaterial, but the person who pays it must accept the punishment. The stupid man cannot walk out after others pay the fine and claims that he did not accept the charge for contempt in the face of the court. Let him sign the request, and that would mean that he chose to have to pay the fine together with part of the jail term. Maybe he should serve out the full month, and surely the money paid to the court cannot be refunded.

    NH Chan explains that contempt in the face of the court applies exactly to the action by M Chang is his action to disrupt court proceedings. That stupid man walked out of the witness box as he pleased and disrupted court proceeding. He expected that he served his boss who practised double standards could have double standards to his advantage.

    M Chang should know that this is year 2010 not 2001.

You must be logged in to post a comment.