People’s hope in the judiciary has been misplaced

by P Ramakrishnan

Confronted by crisis in Perak, the people had reason to believe that the judiciary would be our last hope for justice to prevail. That hope is apparently misplaced. What a disappointment that proved to be!

It is difficult to believe or accept the decision of the Judicial Commissioner, Ridwan Ibrahim. To say the least, Malaysians are shocked into disbelief by his verdict. Technicalities were used to prevent a fair trial and counter arguments to help the judge to arrive at a sound decision. In this instance we are reminded of Aeschylus who said, “Wrong must not win by technicalities.” But that was what happened in the Ipoh High Court on 3 March 2009. It is a matter of grave disappointment to all of us.

To begin with, his decision to hear the case in chambers – not withstanding his discretionary powers – came as a complete surprise to the nation. Knowing that the entire country is very concerned with what is happening in Perak, the appropriate thing would have been to hear the case in open court as requested by senior lawyer, Tommy Thomas, representing the Speaker of the Perak Assembly. This fair request was denied.

What is at issue in this instance concerns every Malaysian and they have a right to know what persuasive arguments have been presented to support this case that has been brought to the Ipoh High Court by Zambry and others. We have a right to know what prevailed upon the Judicial Commissioner for his decision. Now, we will never know what transpired in the chambers.

Secondly, the decision to deny representation by lawyers of the Speaker’s choice on mere technical grounds is perplexing. The argument that the five lawyers chosen by the Speaker to represent them have no locus standi is difficult to accept as justifiable grounds to deny the Speaker his defence. That goes against natural justice.

To insist that the Speaker should be represented by the office of the state legal advisor is indeed baffling. It is incredulous that the court failed to see the obvious inherent conflict of interest. The legal advisor is currently representing ‘the other MB’ Zambry Abd Kadir in a case brought to court by the legitimate MB Nizar Jamaluddin. How could the legal advisor now seriously and consciously defend the position of the Speaker? Is it even possible? This is stretching absurdity to the extreme limits!

If it is true as is claimed that the “officer” of the government – in this case the Speaker – must be represented by the legal advisor, does it mean that the court recognises that the Speaker and his Executive Council is the legitimate government in Perak?

Or put another way, since the legal advisor is representing “the other MB” on behalf of the government in the High Court case in Kuala Lumpur, does it not imply that Zambry and his Council members are accepted and recognised as the “legitimate” representatives of the Perak government? That being the case, how can Zambry and the others then be represented by private lawyers and not by the legal advisor? Shouldn’t the same argument prevail that this so-called government must be represented by the state legal advisor? Why this double standard?

Thirdly, we are appalled that the request by Tommy Thomas to hold a watching brief with speaking rights was denied by the court, which ruled that he could hold the watching brief but could not submit or participate in its proceedings. This decision is clearly absurd and incredible!

How could the court in the name of justice choose to pass judgment without hearing the other side? How could the court arrive at a just decision without the benefit of the counter argument? How could the court not allow representation before passing judgment? “Fairness is what justice really is,” said Potter Stewart. Where is that fairness in this case?

Fourthly, the court has issued an indefinite restraining order – to stop the Speaker from summoning the sitting of the State Assembly – after a one-sided 90 minutes of submissions and 10 minutes of deliberation. Does this decision take into consideration the consequence of that ruling? It has been stated by legal experts that if the Assembly does not sit at least once within a span of six months then the Assembly is automatically dissolved.

The much anticipated reformation in the judiciary is illusory. It will not take place with the present set up of the judiciary. It would take a complete overhaul of the judiciary with new appointments of competent people of absolute integrity.

The crisis in Perak cannot be solved by the judiciary. The proceedings in the Ipoh High Court brought to mind what Thomas Fuller rightly observed, “Rigid justice is the greatest injustice.”

Ultimately, it is the will of the people of Perak that must solve their dilemma – not someone else or some other institution. Aliran hopes and pleads that common sense will prevail in the larger interest of the nation.

As we see it the only solution lies in the dissolution of the Perak State Assembly and holding fresh elections. Let the sovereignty of the people decide once and for all who should form the government in Perak.

Are we Malaysia or are we Zimbabwe ?

This seemingly ridiculous question has to be asked because of what is happening in Perak. The BN has failed to display the political maturity as the ruling coalition of a nation that has experienced 52 years of Parliamentary Democracy.

What is taking place in Perak brings us disgrace and disrepute. Malaysia comes across as no better than Zimbabwe or even Myanmar where the rule of law has been cast aside. It is no better than these despotic states that do not recognise the principles of democracy or the sanctity of the due process of the law.

We have, unfortunately, descended to this gutter level because of the corrupting influence of power and position. This greed for power has totally corrupted politics in Malaysia that we no longer pay homage to truth and justice; we no longer honour the will of the people.

In the maneuvering and manipulation that is taking place in Perak to topple a legitimate government by foul means, the BN politicians seem to have forgotten that sovereignty remains at all times with the people and they do not forfeit it even though the might of the ruling party has been brought into play to sabotage the democratic will of the people.

  1. #1 by ahluck on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 12:26 pm


    Karpal Singh and Sultan Azlan Shah are sitting in a bar. A guy walks in and asks the barman,
    ‘Isn’t that Sultan Azlan Shah and Karpal?’
    The barman says ‘Yep, that’s them.’ So the guy walks over and says,
    ‘Hello, what are you guys doing?’
    Sultan says, ‘We’re planning PKR Govt Rule Malaysia’
    The guy says, ‘Really? What’s going to happen?’
    And Karpal says, ‘Well, we’re going to kill all BN(Barisan National) Leaders
    and one Computer repairman.’
    And the guy exclaimed, ‘A Computer repairman?!! !’
    Karpal turns to Sultan and says, ‘See, I told you no-one would worry
    about the BN Leaders!’

  2. #2 by ALLAN THAM on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 12:53 pm

    First people confused because they are ignorant, next people confuse because they was ill inform, and follow by all people confused by all those have been confused by the so call learned people. So every body have been confused in one way or other.

    When all have been confused please go back to the starting point ie the basis unit of all things living or non living, the basis unit is people.

    It is the people who give the power to the selective people to make law and orders and rule using the law make by the people.

    When the basis unit of all thing ie the people has been provoke and it is time for change.

    It is our reminder that people is the most basis and most powerful.

  3. #3 by catharsis on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 1:22 pm

    ” How could the court in the name of justice choose to pass judgment without hearing the other side? How could the court arrive at a just decision without the benefit of the counter argument? How could the court not allow representation before passing judgment? “Fairness is what justice really is,” said Potter Stewart. Where is that fairness in this case? ”

    Yes!! we certainly can in OUR BOLIHLAND……………….and it is really sad for foreigner like MICHAEL BECKMAN to recognise OUR BOLIHLAND as indeed a “BODOHLAND”………..HOW SAD AND HOW CAN WE BLAME HIM FOR HIS PERCEPTION.

  4. #4 by taiking on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 1:33 pm

    And didnt gopal sri ram say that mere technicalities ought not be used to deny justice.

  5. #5 by Kelvenho on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 1:36 pm

    As long as Najib and BN rule the country there will not be justice for
    the people. The judiciary will be under the control of Najib and BN.
    The only way is to vote PR overwhelmingly in the 13E.
    At the meantime the people in the 3 by-election should vote PR in
    and make sure that BN lose their deposit.

  6. #6 by Onlooker Politics on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 1:48 pm

    A court which does not practice the principles of fairness and impartiality in order to dispense justice is called “Kangaroo Court”!

    A Kangaroo Court is also a court which has deliberately chosen to ignore Article 72 (1) of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, which stipulates,
    “Article 72. (1) The validity of any proceedings in the Legislative Assembly of any State shall not be questioned in any court.”

    The ruling of a Kangaroo Court has no legal binding since it is unconstitutional!

  7. #7 by k1980 on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 1:51 pm

    sorry for being off-topic but it’s of utmost interest

    The wounds on Kugan’s body could have been inflicted by his relatives and friends at the mortuary after his death. So the second autopsy report is not valid!


    Why would relatives and friends of a dead man at the mortuary bring themselves to inflict wounds on the corpse? To test their surgery skills on the deceased? Or to make the corpse so frightening that it would scare away the devils in the underworld?

  8. #8 by sheriff singh on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 2:59 pm

    Watch the movie “The Verdict” starring Paul Newman.

  9. #9 by wanderer on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 3:15 pm

    If one went by what the Sleepy head PM and the Mongolian DPM said before the Assemblymen had their sitting under the Tree of Democracy…both of them harped on the same tune, “Why not wait for the court’s decision?”
    It is very obvious now, why the court’s decision was so vital to the gutless UMNO party…..stupidly, I was still hanging on the belief, the court will act professionally…damn me!

  10. #10 by Bigjoe on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 4:28 pm

    What is being revealed here is not BN govt is subversive to the state.

    First, the sanctity of institution of the Perak Assembly and the power of the Speaker get thrown out the door.

    Second, the police was not only derilict in their duty, they aided and abetted the subversion of the institution and constitution.

    Now, we have a kangaroo court that throws the constitution out the door in blatant abuse of power to perpetuate that subeversion.

    UMNO/BN has now become a subvervise element, an enemy of the state, a clear and present danger to the country – the very thing the ISA was original designed to do – the only problem being that ISA is in the hands of the enemy…

  11. #11 by fairvoice on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 4:56 pm

    HRH Sultan of Perak, Its very obvious now that UMNO / BN is now employing dubious services of a compromised judiciary to overthrow the opposition, and using the ploice to intimidate PKR assembly persons right in front of your very nose.

  12. #12 by dawsheng on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 5:24 pm

    Hartal one time.

  13. #13 by dawsheng on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 5:32 pm

    What have you got to lose? Najib as Prime Minister?

  14. #14 by dawsheng on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 5:40 pm

    The Bar Council failed again and now has been reduced to dust. Give me justice Datuk Ambiga.

  15. #15 by limkamput on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 6:37 pm

    “Wrong must not win by technicalities.” So nicely quoted by Ramakrishnan

    Is this not laws and courts are all about? Since when are laws and courts not based more on technicalities and less on justice? It is not without a reason that I have always made fun of lawyers and wannabes. It is not just about this case. Laws and courts have long been based on technicalities, what more they are compounded by parochialism, racism and maga incompetency.

    Now, we will never know what transpired in the chambers. Ramakrishnan

    The reality is even if both sides have all the sound arguments, we will know who is going to win and who is going to lose. Guess most have no choice: it is so ironical for us to keep going back to the institutions we have long suspected their impartiality and competency. I have no greater despair than going to the court to seek justice, to the police to make a report and to count on MACC to get rid of the nation’s ill. Dream on my friends, dream on.

    Are we Malaysia or are we Zimbabwe ? Ramakrishnan

    This is the only question that must be answered. All else will fall in place once this question is answered.

    Did you all see the increasing vigour of the Police, the MACC and the Judiciary to do the “right” things? Be wary of the undercurrent. It is changing…..

  16. #16 by yhsiew on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 6:52 pm

    IPOH, March 6 — Poice attempted to question Perak speaker V Sivakumar this morning over the suspension of Perak Menteri Besar Zambry Adbul Kadir and his six executive councilors…………..The attempt at questioning appears to be the latest sign of interference from the civil service in the legislature, which some observers say, weakens the doctrine of separation of powers.

    Perak Constitution has been reduced to ashes.

  17. #17 by milduser on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 7:10 pm

    A Kangaroo court, no further comment…

  18. #18 by malayan on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 7:15 pm

    If anyone want to know about how the Federation of Malaya Constitutional prepared.

    Want to know your rights you must download the 2 booklets. (Get one for your children and family)

    Here is the booklets link.



  19. #19 by wesuffer on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 7:56 pm

    cant speaker not to give statement to police ? since the court case is pending. they may not be legal MB and exco yet.

  20. #20 by wesuffer on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 8:06 pm

    a question always in my mind.
    when next GE. i still have feeling BN will regain power as federal goverment but cant get 2/3 majority.
    i think many people still not wake up yet
    according to K.T AND PERMATANG PAUH by election result, still got many voter choosed BN.
    say BN will lose deposit in every seat in next GE.
    i dont think so…

  21. #21 by yhsiew on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 8:11 pm

    Nizar seeks audience with Sultan

  22. #22 by Loh on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 8:21 pm

    The court has to take order from the police. The police take order from the boss of PM AAB. Of course AAB’s boss is wating to be appointed PM.

    Is this a police state? Is it a prarliamentary dictator rule through police, with the court and the parliament to project an image of democracy?

  23. #23 by vsp on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 9:02 pm

    This is what I wrote 2 weeks ago:

    It does not take the wisdom of a King Solomon for anyone to realize that the administration of Malaysian justice has degenerated into a joke – the laughingstock of a civilized society. From a justice that is without favour and fear and blind to colour, skin, creed and status, it has morphed into a completely different animal altogether. Now it is a cross between a donkey and a kangaroo, sired by a once powerful but still living demigod who was fascinated with and dabbled in genetics engineering.

    It is part donkey because its main characteristics are servitude, weak-mindedness, avariciousness and its sycophantic abilities as exemplified by conniving and weak-minded judges; a crafty and unprincipled Attorney-General; a castrated Anti-corruption chief and a goon Police chief.

    It is also part kangaroo because of its naked power, greed, arbitrariness and selectiveness as symbolized by an unsavoury, scandal-proned Prime minister soon-to-be; an incompetent, irresponsible and powerful Home minister; and ministers with unfettered powers above the ambit of the Courts. In sum it resembled a kangaroo justice system. Malaysian justice looks like and sounds like justice but is not justice. Outwardly, Malaysia has the biggest courts in the third world and a bloated justice administration but inwardly it is sheer manipulation, naked power, greed, vindictiveness, selectiveness, shifting-of-the-goalpost and a technicality game – anything but justice.

    Here’s a checklist of how the Malaysian justice system works.

    1) Who and what are you: if you are from the top echelon of the ruling party you are untouchable. For example, a coming emperor whose name was implicated in a grisly murder of a Mongolian beauty was not investigated, and those who were closely associated with him were not even been interrogated in the court proceeding which is still ongoing. Incriminating evidences and critical witnesses disappeared. All he did was to swear on the koran and it was accepted as gospel truth by the sitting judge. A lot of inconsequent judicial motions and moves took place but the prosecution team was programmed to lose the case.

    2) Who do you know: if you are a member of the component parties in the BN group and is aligned with the power wielders you are safe from all investigations and prosecution. If you are not, you will become the sacrificial lamb in order to appease for the public’s call for blood.

    3) Money talks: Malaysian justice is being commodified. The guardian of justice are making money out of it. If you are a businessman or a gangster you can pay yourself out of trouble. Rules and laws can be bent and modified for your convenience. Judges can be chosen and bought. The Royal Commission investigation in the Lingam case is ample proof. If you are an ordinary mortal, you can still buy justice: go to any BN MPs and they can intercede on your behalf, with some under-the-counter considerations enriching the enforcer.

    4) Political enemies are always wrong: If you are a politician from the opposite camp you must be an angel. You must not be involved in the slightest wrongdoing. If you are, a ton of bricks will land on your head. The recent case of the Selangor MB is an interesting case. The MACC chief was not interested in the billion upon billion of ringgits that was reported and stolen by the BN politicians throughout the years but is only interested in the cow-and-car technicality case.

    5) Frogs are welcome: If you are an opposition MP but not impeccable to corruption and sexual impropieties you will be targetted. But you can come out of your predicament and become a few million richer if you are willing to hop over to the other side. This is froggies’ season but be sure that the BN are still two-thirds short of power. Once that is achieved you are not welcomed anymore.

    6) Doctrine of majority: As Nasri has commented in one of his interviews that something is not true if the majority in the kampongs do not talk about it in the coffeeshops. People in the urban areas might blog, demonstrate and get disgusted about an event but if it was not reported in the MSM to get the kampong folks excited, then the truth of the event is not there. So the tyranny of the majority applies in the arena of justice.

    7) Only police reports of UMNO Youth is entertained: Yes, UMNO Youth reports against the Sin Chew reporter and Teresa Kok got swift retribution and landed them under ISA detentions. Kapal Singh and Lim Guan Eng was called up. Reports from the opposition against BN thieves were never entertained and would never see the light of day.

    8) Attorney General and police have discretionary power of investigation: The AG and police can pick-and-choose what they want to be investigated. Anything that are not investigated even though they were the truths are assumed to be false and the courts will accept them as gospel truths. RPK’s case is a classic example of misplaced justice gone wild.

  24. #24 by grace on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 9:33 pm

    To ask Sivakumar to represent him is like Manchester UNited asking Petr Cezh(Chelsea goalkeeper) to keep goal against Chelsea.
    Can Manchester United win in this situation?
    A five year old boy will say Petr Cezh will lepas tangan la!!!

  25. #25 by grace on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 9:36 pm

    To ask State LA to represent Sivakumar is like forcing MU to use Petr Cezh keeping its goal against Chelsea!!!

  26. #26 by kevchua on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 9:47 pm

    What hope in the judiciary? …there’s NONE….no more …kaput. BN is controlling every part of the judiciary system. And it’s alright if their lawyers make stupid decisions – they’re always right. BN is using every trick they can think of to retain power.

    Even if PR were to win in the by-election, BN (through its UMNO members) will dig up stories and come up with more scandals so that the PR will not be able to run the State in peace, and then they can blame PR for not doing their job well. Notice that the MCA, MIC and Gerakan are absolutely out of the picture? That’s because they’ve nothing to do with the current problem…it’s all UMNO. No wonder Mr Karpal used that 6-letter word in Parliament to describe UMNO. He wasn’t being racist, he was angry.

    Justice could NOT be served – not when BN controls everything.

  27. #27 by Taxidriver on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 9:52 pm

    What “people’s hope in the judiciary has been misplaced”? Our Malaysian judiciary had been dead long time ago! Only that it took Malaysians a long time to open their eyes. Anyway, better late than never.

  28. #28 by TruthEnquirer on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 10:30 pm

    Nearly everyday we are pressed by legal issues and technicalities. Most of us are not well versed in the law. I dare say even many lawyers and judges are not!

    However never before than now are Malaysians more reminded of the famous aphorism that “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And the power that corrupts most absolutely is that which sees itself on the decline and desperate to grasp for self perservation!

    So the powers seek to influence and corrupt first those in profession of the law, whether legal practitioners at the Bar or judges on the bench!

    For law is a mass of rules, maxims of interpretations, statutory provisions and judicial precedents that often conflict with one another so that there is always a rule or an interpretation supporting a certain position contrary to an opposite one, dependiong on which one can use.

    Whilst the rest of us are simply lost and powerless in the face of the obscurity of legal technicalities and language, the corrupt and powerful solicits the help of those in profession of the law who could help legitimise their position with legal mumbo jumbo. Sure we could also seek other eagles in the profession of the law who could help safeguard and defend our rights against encroachment by the powerful and the corrupt. In the end it is the lawyers – whether as practitioners or judges – that play both ways, defending the Bad and the Good.

    For ordinary people uninitiated to the complexities of legal technicalities, it suffices that we’ve only got as our guide and compass, common sense, even if unfortunately that is also not that “common”, and a clear sense of right from wrong to take us through the news, stories and behind the headlines of the day. We know we can depend on some lawyers/judges somewhere to look for some rule or precedent or law to defend that which we know is right and just just as efficiently as some lawyers/judges elsewhere will look for some rule or precedent or law to defend that which we know is wrong and unjust.

    So as the legal and court drama plays out whether in the court rooms or under the Angsana tree, in the final analysis one can only hope that this sense of what is right and just will hum and ring with more and more Malaysians until sufficient numbers of us are fortified and united to cast our ballot papers to boot the powerful corrupt out of power.

    Laws and Courts will not delay our journey headed for Zimbabwe, and lawyers are only instruments like violin to play good or bad music. It is the Musician who counts, not his instrument!

    Only if and when this critical mass of Malaysians are so galvanised to act, and act with our ballot cast, then only can we lay claim to a possible future that is promising bright and exciting.

  29. #29 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Friday, 6 March 2009 - 11:52 pm

    Sorry, Ridwan, I just have to ask these questions:

    where did you graduate from and what did you study in your law course?

    Politics? A?
    Constitutional Law? A or E? Exempted like Mugabe?
    OK, no further questions. I rest my case.

  30. #30 by OriginalJeffrey on Saturday, 7 March 2009 - 8:23 am

    I thought the people already lost hope since 1988!

  31. #31 by peter sng on Saturday, 7 March 2009 - 12:40 pm

    Are we Malaysia or are we Zimbabwe?

    Sorry sir, We are going towards the direction of being called the Zimbabwe of the East.

    Good and thoughtful arguements though.

  32. #32 by frankyapp on Saturday, 7 March 2009 - 5:09 pm

    Higuys,many moons ago I told you that Jac under zaki would be catastrophe.Well now you guys can see it. My reasoning was that zaki is a tool ,a kind of a trap set by AAB/Umno/BN just only to trap or catch the opposition. So now what to do ? You need anti trap expert not MACC solution.Well,can any anti trap expert if any,please do come out to help solve this political turmoil.The police,the army,rela members,present core of politicians,sultans etc etc etc.No these are all not anti trap experts.The only anti trap expert I can think of right now is the rakyat.We can request our Agong to dessolve the federal parliament and call for the 13th general election so that we the rakyat as anti trap experts can decide who sits in the executive and the judiciary so that the demoncratic monarchy system can function fairly and justly in our rakyat’s interest.Ha Ha HA.

  33. #33 by taiking on Saturday, 7 March 2009 - 6:03 pm

    Judging the judge. Err.. hmm If it pleases Your Lordship. May I enquire My Lord. Err.. how many o-level passes does Your Lordship have?

  34. #34 by undergrad2 on Sunday, 8 March 2009 - 8:40 pm

    “Is this not laws and courts are all about? Since when are laws and courts not based more on technicalities …” limkaput

    The next time you are charged with corruption (you must have escaped quite a few in your life because of ‘technicalities’ in the law) I bet you would be looking for ‘technicalities’. What you call ‘technicalities’ are not really technicalities but inherent ambiguity in the law rather than its process, meant to protect the innocent even if it means the guilty could walk free.

    The judicial system (and not just ours) is not perfect and nobody says that it is. But until we have something better we are stuck with the one we have that allows some criminals to walk free. It is better that way than see the innocent get convicted. The judicial system cannot even protect all the innocent as some fall through the cracks and end up incarcerated for crimes they never did. There must be some people innocent of the crimes they were accused serving time in jail. A few have gone to the gallows.

    The decision to hear the matter in chambers is correct because it concerns merely the issue of locus standi of the team of lawyers seeking to represent their client and sadly involves a decision for which there can be no appeal since it is not in open court. That is not technicality or misuse of procedural law.

  35. #35 by undergrad2 on Sunday, 8 March 2009 - 8:45 pm

    If there is anything deficient or lacking in procedural law, then the way would be to amend it and the place for that would be in our legislature.

  36. #36 by limkamput on Sunday, 8 March 2009 - 9:59 pm

    The next time you are charged with corruption (you must have escaped quite a few in your life because of ‘technicalities’ in the law) I bet you would be looking for ‘technicalities’. undergrad2

    Are you talking about yourself? Must be….

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