Archive for August 11th, 2007

PM’s “No more logging licences” does not sound categorical and absolute – more like a “No…but”

The Star headline is categorical and unequivocal — “PM: No more logging licences — ‘Important to maintain current forest'”.

But close reading of the speech by Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as reported does not convey a categorical and absolute “No” but more of a “No… but”, allowing for exceptions and exemptions in special circumstances.

This is the Star report:

SANDAKAN: No more logging licences will be given out as far as the Prime Minister is concerned.

“I will turn down anyone who comes to me asking for logging licences. If I want to make them happy, I will tell them to ask Musa (Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman), knowing that he will say no too,” said Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Cautioning forest custodians to not simply give out logging licences when opening the RM9.2mil Rainforest Discovery centre about 30km from here, Abdullah said he would not entertain people requesting for logging licences from the states.

He said it was important to maintain the current natural forests as they were important to the eco-system.

I do not think any remark by Abdullah has raised more questions. For instance:

Why “No more logging licences… .as far as the Prime Minister is concerned”? Does this mean that so long as the Prime Minister is not aware, it is ok for logging licences in Sabah to continue to be issued?

Is Abdullah’s “No more logging licences” declaration for Sabah only or for all states, whether Sarawak or the Peninsular Malaysia states under Barisan Nasional control — and how could this decree be carried out when it is based on Abdullah’s off-the-cuff speech? Or is it just going to be good media copy to be instantly forgotten or ignored by the various state governments concerned?

Abdullah’s next remark is even more baffling. Read the rest of this entry »


7-month Constitutional crisis over Chief Judge Malaya – CJ must bear responsibility for root-cause

The country is faced with a full-blown constitutional crisis over the appointment of the third most important judicial office in the land, the Chief Judge of Malaya, which had been vacant for more than seven months since the retirement of Tan Sri Siti Normah Yaakob on January 5, 2007.

I first raised the issue of the paralysis of the judicial appointment process for the post of the Chief Judge of Malaya in Parliament during the Royal Address debate in March, and DAP MPs Karpal Singh (Bukit Glugor) and M. Kulasegaran (Ipoh Barat) and I have continued to demand to know why the country is still without a Chief Judge of Malaya whenever there was an opportunity in Parliament in the past five months but without getting any satisfactory answer.

Under Article 122B of the Constitution, the Chief Judge of Malaya “shall be appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister, after consulting the Conference of Rulers”.

The appointment of the new Chief Judge of Malaya has not be able to get past the Conference of Rulers which have met twice since the retirement of Siti Normah, reflecting the constitutional crisis over the issue.

When the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who did not attend the recent meeting of the Conference of Rulers held at the end of last month as he was on private holidays overseas, was asked about the issue on his return, Abdullah said “he had proposed a candidate and it was now for the Chief Justice to conclude the appointment”. (NST 29.7.07)

After the Singapore Straits Times reported that the Conference of Rulers at its meeting last month had rejected the government’s nominee, New Straits Times quoted Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim as saying that the the vacancy for the Chief Judge of Malaya is expected to be filled by August 31 and that the identity of the nominee was classified under the Official Secrets Act.

Although Ahmad Fairuz has denied that he had said that the appointment would be made by August 31, I understand that this statement by the Chief Justice is recorded on tape.

But the more important issue is why should the Chief Justice invoke the Official Secrets Act to suppress all reports referring to the official nominee for the post of Chief Judge of Malaya, whom I understand is one of the most junior Federal Court judges — as if such a nomination cannot withstand public scrutiny. Read the rest of this entry »