Judges who accept bribes – Fairuz must take action or resign as CJ

Judges who accept bribes - Fairuz must take action or resign as CJ

When I was speaking in Parliament on Wednesday during the debate on the Motion of Thanks on the Royal Address and touching on the judiciary as another institution which had suffered in the last 50 years of nationhood in terms of loss of public confidence in its independence, impartiality and integrity, DAP National Chairman and MP for Bukit Glugor Karpal Singh interrupted me to raise a specific question.

Karpal asked whether I agree that as the Chief Justice of Malaysia, Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim had made it very clear that there are judges who are corrupt, it has become the duty and responsibility of the Chief Justice to lodge a police report to enable a full investigation to be conducted to ascertain as to who are the corrupt judges.

In my response, I expressed my full agreement that to protect the good name of the judiciary, Tun Ahmad Fairuz should either lodge a police against the corrupt judges who “accept bribes” which he had stated publicly or resign as Chief Justice.

There is actually another option open to the Chief Justice — which is to invoke Article 125(3) of the Federal Constitution to set up a judicial tribunal for the dismissal of the judges who accept bribes. This Article provides that the Chief Justice, after consulting the Prime Minister, is empowered to represent to the Yang di Pertuan Agong for the establishment of a tribunal for the removal of a judge for judicial misconduct.

Tun Ahmad Fairuz must take action against the judges he had accused of taking bribes, whether by lodging a police report or invoking Article 152(3) of the Federal Constitution, and if he not prepared to do either, he should resign as Chief Justice to protect the reputation and integrity of the Malaysian judiciary.

There can be nothing more serious against the reputation and integrity of judges than the charges which the Chief Justice had levelled in his speech during the swearing-in ceremony of eight new judicial commissioners on March 1 – that there are judges who accept bribes.

Tun Ahmad Fairuz had said:

“It is only logical that such despicable characteristics would only kill the possibility of justice and impartiality shown by the rest of the judges. Therefore, if these judges are unable to tear away from such bad characteristics, it would be best for them to withdraw from the judiciary.

“Such a behaviour gives honour to the Malay proverb: ‘Janganlah kerana nila setitik rosak susu sebelanga (Because of a drop of dye, the whole pot of milk is ruined).”

In his speech, Ahmad Fairuz had castigated various forms of “inappropriate behaviour” and judicial misconduct, such as:

  • Judges who were often seen socializing with lawyers, prosecutors and corporate figures while hearing their cases in court; and
  • Judges who were “constantly angry and foul-tempered”, who portrayed themselves as being the most brilliant or perfect judge in court; and
  • Judges who accept bribes.

The question of judges who “accept bribes” being asked to “tear away from such bad characteristics” or leave the judiciary does not arise, as such judges have committed crimes of corruption must be exposed and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Ahmad Fairuz would be betraying his office to uphold the law as the Chief Justice if he fails to take appropriate action against the corrupt judges, or he had publicly made baseless and unsubstantiated charges of corruption against judges serving under him.

Only some six months earlier, the Chief Justice had dismissed suggestions that judges who lacked integrity and honesty had been appointed by the authorities.

Speaking at the Judges’ Conference in Putrajaya, attended by 83 judges of the Federal Court, Court of Appeal and High Courts nationwide on August 22, 2006, Ahmad Fairuz declared: “Don’t say that they are dishonest. Don’t say that they are without integrity. Give me proof and then we shall take action”.

Now, it is the Chief Justice himself who is saying publicly that there are judges who are not only guilty of “inappropriate behaviour” as putting themselves in the compromising position of socializing with lawyers, prosecutors and corporate figures while hearing their cases in court, but that there are judges who are guilty of the gross judicial misconduct and heinous crime of accepting bribes.

Where is the “action” he had promised last August?

The Chief Justice’s shock expose that there are judges who accept bribes, and his failure for over three weeks to take follow-up action to clean up the judiciary of corrupt judges, are the latest setbacks to the losing battle to restore national and international confidence in the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judges for close to two decades since the Salleh Abas judicial crisis in 1988.

Malaysia has probably the most imposing court complexes in the world, not only the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya (housing two Federal Courts and six Courts of Appeal), but very soon, another world’s biggest court complex cost RM300 million in Jalan Duta housing 30 High Courts, 21 Sessions Courts and 26 magistrates’ courts.

But what is the use of these monstrous edifices when sorely lacking is the essence and the moving spirit of justice?
During my continued speech on the Royal Address on Thursday, I had referred to the case of the whistleblower in the judiciary, Justice Datuk Syed Ahmad Idid Syed Abdullah, the High Court judge who authored the 33-page anonymous letter about corruption and abuse of power in the judiciary in 1996, implicating 12 judges.

Instead of full and thorough investigation into the serious allegations by a High Court judge, Syed Ahmad Idid was victimised and force to resign from the judiciary.
But Syed Ahmad Idid has been able to preserve and maintain national and international respect for his integrity, which is why his is not only appointed director of the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration in 2004, but also recently appointed as an arbitrator until 2010 to the Permanent Court of Arbitration of Slovenia.

I had also referred in my speech in Parliament to a police report which was lodged earlier in the week about corruption in the top judicial and government circles, implicating a former Chief Justice, a former Attorney-General, a former Inspector-General of Police, and judges (retired and two still in service) and asked whether there would be full, thorough and satisfactory investigations into the report.

  1. #1 by Open Air on Saturday, 24 March 2007 - 11:34 am


    He is just a plain idiot in disguise as CJ.

    He lacks judicial initiative which means he is useless and just filling in – in the convenience of the title which carries no weight in true sense.


  2. #2 by Cinapek on Saturday, 24 March 2007 - 11:39 am

    The CJ, by his public comments, has tacitly admitted that there are corruption among the judges.

    Instead of reacting in the manner we would expect of a person with his training and position, and make the necessary reports or take the proper legal steps to deal with these corruption he seems to be aware of, he has instead seemed to have reacted instinctly as his cultural norm dictates i.e to give those obviously guilty another chance. This is similar to the “chance” given to “one eye” Jasin and Datuk Z of the infamous Klang mansion case despite the overwhelming evidence of their wrongdoings.

    In this country this is not the last we will see of this giving “chance” syndrome. Sad.

  3. #3 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 24 March 2007 - 11:59 am

    The Star of Friday March 2nd merely reported him as having “hit out at judges who accept bribes”. There are also rumours of such judicial impropriety swirling amongst some members of the public. An ex judge Datuk Syed Ahmad Idid Syed Abdullah was forced to resign from the Bench when he became whistle blower. Could his allegations off corruption within judiciary be baseless when he was a member of that institution and paid the price of loss of position and pension for coming out open?

    As a starting point Syed Ahmad Idid implicated and named 12 judges. The late Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah said in July 1996 that the 12 judges implicated in the letter were interviewed by the authorities. He said he and his officers had read the investigation papers of the ACA and the police, and that the allegations were “wholly untrue and baseless”.

    If the Chief Justice was prepared to publicly hit out at corrupt judges – and thereby indirectly admit their presence or at least that he made the statement by reason of the presence of allegations of corruption, then it is incumbent upon the responsibility, stature and image of his high office to order an enquiry or take appropriate action for judicial review or other form of appropriate action than to be seen doing nothing.

    Let me also ask why can’t the Parliamentary Select committee on Integrity in which you are member call for Syed Ahmad Idid’s so called “poison letter” implicating 12 judges, review the allegations contained in it and report and recommend to the government whether a review of investigations by ACA or present attorney general is necessary?

    The present AG is also reviewing allegations long ago made against ACA director general, so why can’t he review that which ex AG Mohtar had dismissed as “wholly untrue and baseless”?

  4. #4 by democrate on Saturday, 24 March 2007 - 12:12 pm

    This is call ‘ Knowing Law But offending the Law ‘ as a Chinese says. Who will trust the judges and who will respect them ? sorry lah !

  5. #5 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 24 March 2007 - 12:47 pm

    Now supposing the Chief Justice takes action and orders or permits an investigation (whether or not by ACA) on judges alleged or suspected on reasonable grounds for corruption. What happens to the status of all cases already decided and disposed by these judges? If for example an accused has been acquitted is it necessary to order a retrial just in case the guilty had procured an acquittal by bribe? What about civil cases between two corporations in which one has won damages from the other : do we have to review and re-try/re-open the case or cases decided years ago on suspicion that the won who won paid its way?

    What about investigations into magistrates, session court judges, Registrars and assistant registrars of courts and even peons who are allegedly paid to lose files, arrange for cases to be heard by friendly judge?

  6. #6 by negarawan on Saturday, 24 March 2007 - 2:03 pm

    If the “leadership” of the country is corrupted, then it is not a surprise that downliners follow their bad example. A bad tree will bear bad fruits. The only solution to the rampant corruption in Malaysia is to uproot the whole tree (aka BN and its puppets) and burn it in the coming GE.

  7. #7 by Libra2 on Saturday, 24 March 2007 - 3:05 pm

    Prior to 1988, I could not recall of a single instance where a Chief Justice or a judge being “ridiculed” in public, described in derogatory terms and asked to step down.
    Neither were their behaviour/ character ever questioned in Parliament.
    What has happened to the once highly respected judiciary – deemed to be placed at the apex of a civilised society?

  8. #8 by Tai Lo Chin on Saturday, 24 March 2007 - 8:32 pm

    “There is actually another option open to the Chief Justice – which is to invoke Article 125(3) of the Federal Constitution to set up a judicial tribunal for the dismissal of the judges who accept bribes” – Kit Siang.

    Our system of law upholds Doctrine of Precedence.

    There is no precedent for setting up of a judicial tribunal for the dismissal of corrupt judges.

    We only have precedent of judicial tribunal to try and remove judges of integrity who stood for Rule of Law against the Executive like Tun Salleh Abas, George Seah and Wan Sulaiman.

    Our CJ is bound and cannot deviate from precedent.

  9. #9 by sheriff singh on Saturday, 24 March 2007 - 9:03 pm

    I am no lawyer but isn’t it a law or principle that anyone who knows or is aware of a crime is duty bound to report it? If this is correct, shouldn’t the Chief Justice report the criminal acts of his subordinates? If he does not act, or set an example or precedent, then he would be wrong himself and would not be a good role model. Don’t then expect the public to act or to respect the judiciary when all the good judges’ reputation will be tainted by their rogue colleagues misconduct.

    Witholding pertinent information is also morally and ethically wrong. How then to have a better perception and respect for our judiciary?

  10. #10 by blueheeler on Saturday, 24 March 2007 - 9:33 pm

    i’m sure somewhere in M’sia’s laws, there must be a way for that person to be forced to go under sworn testimony and reveal who the crooks are. this may seem harsh, but he did say he knew something’s wrong…

  11. #11 by undergrad2 on Saturday, 24 March 2007 - 9:38 pm

    I am shocked to read of such statements made by the Chief Judge. These statements are almost never made in public and housekeeping issues are best dealt with in private. Members of the Judiciary do not hold elected offices and are appointed by the King following ‘constitutional advice’ by the head of the Executive. So why should the CJ feel compelled to make statements such as those. Perhaps he is politically motivated and is building a career for himself post retirement? A candidate for the PKR?

    The idea of corrupt judges holding office is very disturbing. Could he be speaking hypothetically?

  12. #12 by Tai Lo Chin on Sunday, 25 March 2007 - 12:19 am

    Bolehland’s dilemma was in the beginning how to police the police (hence suggestion of IPCMC), then how to watch over the ACA watchdog (after allegations against its director general surfaced) and now after what Ahmad Fairuz admitted about presence of corrupt judges, how to judge the judge! To overcome dilemma we need strong leadership but now there is yet another dilemma – where to someone to lead the leader!

  13. #13 by Count Dracula on Sunday, 25 March 2007 - 1:46 am

    “…anyone who knows or is aware of a crime is duty bound to report it?” sheriff singh

    You call this a principle of law?? Stupid suggestion.

    He may be morally bound to report but he is certainly not legally bound to report the alleged wrongdoing or crime. If that were the case then you’ll find policemen doing nothing but investigating into all sorts of petty crimes reported by Awta Singh, Ah Chong and Ahmad – because Awta Singh, Ah Chong and Ahmad would be liable if they don’t.

    In any case who is to say what you know or do not know??

  14. #14 by DiaperHead on Sunday, 25 March 2007 - 7:36 am

    “….to protect the good name of the judiciary, Tun Ahmad Fairuz should either lodge a police against the corrupt judges who “accept bribes” which he had stated publicly or resign as Chief Justice.”

    This would be the logical thing to do. It’s like the Prime Minister saying that his Cabinet colleagues are corrupt.

  15. #15 by DiaperHead on Sunday, 25 March 2007 - 7:39 am

    No one expects the CJ of course to lodge a police report – or even make such public statements which could only damage public respect for the Judiciary.

    That’s ridiculous when what he could do is ask for their resignation or early retirement.

  16. #16 by undergrad2 on Sunday, 25 March 2007 - 11:41 am

    Jeffrey: “If for example an accused has been acquitted is it necessary to order a retrial just in case the guilty had procured an acquittal by bribe?”

    Double jeopardy! No can do.

  17. #17 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 25 March 2007 - 12:11 pm

    “..//..Double jeopardy! No can do….//..” Exactly, that creates the problem when CJ investigates, and as suggested, takes action against certain judges on grounds of corruption leaving the public to wonder nervously what happens to possible guilty criminals being adjudged innocent and released by such judges on whom action has been taken, and who now are beyond the reach of the law due to double jeopardy.

    Even in civil cases, there is finality of judicial decision so that there is no chaos. But here’s the problem when judges are taken to task for corruption what happens to cases that they have in past decided in favour of parties that may possibly have bribed them to win? Will the other side that lost be satisfied and not ask for re-trial? Finality is important but so is justice – so how to balance between the two in dealing with cases already decided by judges now investigated and found guilty?

  18. #18 by undergrad2 on Sunday, 25 March 2007 - 7:28 pm

    Jeffrey: “But here’s the problem when judges are taken to task for corruption what happens to cases that they have in past decided in favour of parties that may possibly have bribed them to win?”

    Judges when making their judgments do not just outline his judgment. As trial judge in the case, he has to show the legal reasoning, the legal pathway if you will, his use of the facts and the law in the case that leads him to his particular judgment. They are required to make written judgments in cases where there are complex issues of law. Often this is a minefield and if there are errors of law, they become grounds for appeal – not the fact that he is a corrupt judge.

    The judge in the case may have traveled with the lawyer for the plaintiff to New Zealand. That is not a ground per se for appeal. He may know the plaintiff personally however remotely and should have recused himself from the case. That could be a ground for appeal. What are grounds for appeal are the errors of law and of facts the trial judge may have made during the course of the trial. It could be over evidence or procedures.

    A judge may have been proven to accept bribes in a particular case. That does not mean that his acceptance of the bribes in that case has influenced his judgment. The question to ask is: “Is there a miscarriage of justice in the case?” An incontroverted decision unsupported by law and facts cannot withstand legal scrutiny. It is not the bribe but it is the judgment he makes in the case that is ground for appeal.

  19. #19 by sheriff singh on Sunday, 25 March 2007 - 11:59 pm

    The night ‘nobleman’ can’t face the daylight, the reality, and take decisive action. When he condones and excuses serious crimes, when he hides his head in the sand and pretends everything’s OK, when he justifies his weaknesses and inactions, when he feeds on the hapless, then he lives in a world of delusion. He has contributed naught. His world will rot and fall while he sleeps the day away.

  20. #20 by DiaperHead on Monday, 26 March 2007 - 12:14 am

    Hey Singh, one bottle of toddy too many arr? Don’t understand what you’re talking about.

  21. #21 by DiaperHead on Monday, 26 March 2007 - 12:16 am

    “..when he feeds on the hapless, then he lives…”

    Didn’t know there are cannibals in Malaysia.

  22. #22 by hermes on Monday, 26 March 2007 - 1:34 am

    I have a friend who informed me that he had three cases postponed not by either side but by the Judges themselves. One postponement was because the judge had another part heard case. Why should this be so. Surely, the judge or the registrar should have known there is a part heard for the same day and should not have fixed another case for hearing the same day. The bigger question is why should there be part heard cases at all. Once a case is started, it should be heard till completion and judgement delivered BY THE JUDGE (not by the registrar) shortly after.

    The second case was postponed because the judge was on leave!!. Why fix a case for hearing when the judge knew that he will be on leave that day. In other countries judges do not take leave during the court year. Judges take leave during the annual court vacation.

    The third case was postponed for the best reason of all, It was because the judge had to attend an “OLD BOYS” function!!. That says it all.

    Dont the government realise that a good legal and judicial system is vital for the country – for business and investment and above all for the governance of the country.

    The chief justice blames all other parties for the delays in court hearings but never see or refuses to see the beam in his own eye.

  23. #23 by Jeffrey on Monday, 26 March 2007 - 1:35 am


    3 arguments support your position expressed in posting March 25th 2007.

    They are:

    1. There must be finality of judgments. That is a policy decision and imperative.

    2. Any disturbance or reversal by an appellate court of any judgment that contradicts 1. can be justified only upon an error of law or facts within 4 corners of that judgment as per transcripts.

    3. A judge who is corrupt and accepts bribes in some cases is logically not a sufficiently compelling empirical proposition to suggest he has necessarily been bias and influenced by either bribe or lack of it in the particular case sought to be reversed. Especially when within 4 corners of that judgment as per transcripts there is no indication of such bias. At all times a specific and verifiable nexus must be shown to connect subsequently known corrupt behaviour and how it had tainted prior judgment.

    Now the arguments against are:

    A. Litigants/Defendants have constitutional right to fair trial by fair judge to obtain justice.

    B. Trial and Judge have to not only to be fair but to be seen fair and impartial; justice should not only be done but seen done too. Actual bias need not be proven but likelihood of bias can vitiate the proceedings. These are time honoured precepts. This is why judges should not fraternize with litigants, go with their lawyers for holidays. It is irrelevant that judge may not be actually be bias by reason of the socializing & fraternizing or holidaying but the perception that he may disallows him from engaging in such activities.

    C. when the trial judge is proven tainted by corruption especially not limited to a particular litigant or type of case but generally a pattern of behaviour, (albeit subsequently) that taint, in the perception of public, will broaden retrospectively to his earlier decisions as well and as far as many are concerned evidence that the taint had a discernible effect on an earlier given case, decided, is unnecessary especially when, in most cases, there is strong element of permissible exercise of judicial discretion, and the question remains whether this exercise might have been so tainted by the corrupt disposition.

    D. The nexus argument in 3. above is unacceptable because the doing of justice, and the fact that it ought to be seen done for due process to be exhausted is not an empirical matter or exact science. We cannot assign a value of x to a judge’s ability to be fair, divide it by y (y representing Maloney’s bribetaking), and determine whether the result is less than the constitutionally minimal level of impartiality for earlier cases decided. It is a value judgment and where one tilts. To re-open a previous case, one ought to need only show that the judge’s corrupt disposition forming a pattern would likely have influenced his earlier exercise of judicial discretion on a particular point of how the trial was conducted or finding of fact consistent with the corrupt motive or disposition.

    We do not know, and we likely will never know, what the corrupt judge thought about when deciding a previous case but we do know – now – of how he viewed justice. It comes with a price tag, without which it is hard to give the benefit of doubt to the judge that he would mete justice. And bias” or “influence” affected by bribes is not something external to a judge’s personality that has severable parts to it for us to think that today he is caught for corruption but there is no proof that in deciding previous cases, especially in exercise of judicial discretion, he was ever then influenced by this corrupt disposition.

    E. Why should we demand nexus and proof when it is not actual bias that needs proving but likelihood of bias that needs adverting? When what counts as much is constitutional imperative that a judge has not only integrity and impartiality but also seen to have such attributes, when justice should not only be done but seen done?

    Finality of judgment is of practical importance to administration of justice but what is more important is justice is administered and seen administered in the first place.

  24. #24 by Jeffrey on Monday, 26 March 2007 - 1:47 am

    Correction – “(y representing Maloney’s bribetaking)” should read (Y representing the relevant corrupt judge’s bribetaking subbsequently proven)

  25. #25 by Jeffrey on Monday, 26 March 2007 - 1:49 am

    Further correction of spelling “likelihood of bias that needs adverting?” in E should read “averting”

  26. #26 by DiaperHead on Monday, 26 March 2007 - 12:16 pm

    No la, Jeffrey!

    Though it is also important that justice need to be seen to be done, it is more important that there be no miscarriage of justice, that justice be done.

    No doubt there are ethical issues involved e.g. a judge failing to recuse himself from a case when he is familiar with an individual plaintiff, the age old practice of not fraternizing with members of the legal fraternity etc. This is not corrupt behaviour.

    The decisions made by a corrupt judge may only be reversed on errors of law, or on errors of both law and facts like Undergrad2 said – and not on the fact that he is a judge who is suspected of takiing bribes.

  27. #27 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 29 March 2007 - 7:54 am

    I much heartened by the principled stand taken by Minister in Prime Minister’s Department, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok who told The Sun that the Court of Appeal’s decision on the Subashini’s case was unfair to non muslims and that as “a matter of principle” he would stand by the memorandum that he and 9 other ministers had submitted to the Prime Minister to review and amend of Article 121(1)(A) of the Federal Constitution but which the 9 others except for him have since withdrawn. (Please read 1st page of The Sun March 29th under caption “Its unreasonable”.) Dompok was reported to have made a general statement ‘without referring to specific cases’ that some judges had allowed their “personal sentiment” to cloud their judgment. “This is the impression that the people have now”. Spot on. So I say Chief Justice of Malaysia, Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim must not only rid of corrupt judges but also judges who let their personal sentiments cloud their judgment of what is correct and what is not, what is fair and what is manifestly unfair and oppressive. We want quality not just quantity judges!

    There is considerable disquiet amongst non muslims of the perceived trend of muslims rights overriding non mulsims’ rights in cases like Rayappan a/l Anthony’s and Subashini’s vindicated by our courts and there is no point in trying to forge national unity by national service programme when injustices of these cases are not given redress and reprieve. Our Chief Justice can do much to help by appointing bold and objective minded judges.

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