Archive for November 9th, 2008

Can Zaki prove doubters wrong about his suitability as CJ?

The announcement by the newly-appointed Chief Justice, Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi, who as a lawyer had represented Umno, that he would as far as possible avoid hearing cases involving the political party (or as Star headlined “No Umno cases for now”) is a step in the right direction to disprove doubters wrong about his suitability as the No.1 in the judiciary.

This is however only a small beginning if Zaki is to dispel all the doubts even the most non-partisan in Malaysia entertain about his controversial appointment as Chief Justice.

Public disappointment at the appointment of Zaki as Chief Justice had been most palpable especially as the the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had promised judicial reform to top his final short-list of three reforms before stepping down from office next March – but Zaki’s appointment as Chief Justice was made in disregard of the spirit of judicial reform and there was no consultation whatsoever with the major stakeholders in the country, whether Bar Council, MPs or the civil society.

As I had said before, MPs who had grave reservations about Zaki’s fast-track appointment as Chief Justice had two options after his elevation: firstly to invoke Article 127 of the Constitution to move a substantive motion in Parliament with the support of at least one-quarter of Members of Parliament, i.e. 55 MPs to discuss Zaki’s appointment; or two, to give Zaki the opportunity to acquit himself and prove that he is capable of taking full account of the widespread reservations about his appointment to the process to restore public confidence in the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary after two decades of judicial darkness.

I belong to the latter category and I will like to see Zaki proving all the doubters of his appointment wrong. Read the rest of this entry »


RPK’s rearrest under ISA – Cabinet/Parliament must overrule Hamid

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. Read the rest of this entry »