Judiciary fails to protect minority rights: Sri Ram


by Hazlan Zakaria
Malaysiakini
Sep 16, 10

Former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram said today that the judiciary has failed in its duty to defend minority rights.

Since the executive branch is elected by the majority, and as such it represents the rights of the majority, Sri Ram argued that the judicial branch has the duty to protect the rights of the minority.

“It is the judiciary which must fulfill this task,” said the former judge in his speech at the National Conference on Integrity in Kuala Lumpur today.

Sri Ram told the 350-strong audience that if the question was asked on whether the judiciary has performed its duty, the answer he said would be an “emphatic no!”.

According to him, this was because the judiciary has become so “executive-minded” that the judges have become creatures of the government.

“The judiciary is so anxious to help the executive… And when you bend the law to help the executive, this results in ridiculous decisions,” contended Sri Ram.

He cited examples of the courts reversing decisions through the Federal Court to accommodate the wishes of the federal government.

Sri Ram believed that such interference by the executive was clearly a breach of the doctrine of separation of powers.

The powers to convict and sentence are exclusive to the judiciary and Sri Ram said this role should not be usurped by the executive.

1988 judicial crisis

But more worryingly, Sri Ram contends, is that this failure to protect the rights of the minorities bodes more future ill for Malaysia for the judiciary also holds another higher duty.

“It is up to the judiciary to preserve our constitution,” he said.

“And when and if it fails in that function, then the state has failed,” warned Sri Ram, who retired from the judiciary in February this year.

He indicated that the failure of Malaysia as a state may indeed be imminent given the deteriorating condition of the judiciary since the 1988 crisis, which saw the sacking of a number of Malaysia’s top judges.

Sri Ram had the distinction of being plucked from private law practice and appointed straight into the Court of Appeals.

He however was stuck in the appellate court for 15 years, with a number of judges who are more junior than him being promoted to Federal Court.

It wasn’t until 2009, months before he was due to retired, that he was named a Federal Court judge.

  1. #1 by dagen on Saturday, 18 September 2010 - 5:12 pm

    Umno has an inverted sense and understanding of rights and democracy. In umno’s inverted view it is the majority that need protection and not the minority.

    So Gopal Sri Ram (fomerly, FCJ) quite clearly missed the whole point completely. For better elaboration, ask cintanegara. He is the expert.

    Err one question for cintanegara. There are a lot of cockroaches in the country. I am sure those creepy little inserts must number more than umnoputras. So applying umno’s inverted rights argument does it mean cockroaches have more rights? I am confused. TQ

  2. #2 by yhsiew on Saturday, 18 September 2010 - 5:26 pm

    Ai-yah, you protect whoever gives you the reward – simple logic as that!

  3. #3 by k1980 on Saturday, 18 September 2010 - 5:46 pm

    confused dagen,

    Those cockroaches in the country are not umno members, so they can never have more rights than umnoputras. However, since they are bumis, those cockroaches have more rights than the pendatangs.

    So the next time you meet a cockroach, snap to attention, salute and call it “Tuan”. Then only are you allowed to whack it with your shoe. However, if you killed it, you might be arrested for murder.

    So you have to burn it and throw its ashes into that sungai in Banting, blaming its murder on that Indian lawyer who bought a datukship for RM180,000.

  4. #4 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Saturday, 18 September 2010 - 5:57 pm

    Sri Ram, thank you for the timely reminder to the Executive. Not that they will listen to you or any of the former judges, for if they would then Malaysia would not be in such a cesspool. Besides, there are not a few lawyers in The Cabinet and these haloed principles are really first yr law material.

    Nonetheless, the truth must be told. It only takes students and practitioners of the law to remain silent for the corrupt and dictatorial to run roughshod over the silent majority.

  5. #5 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Saturday, 18 September 2010 - 6:01 pm

    BTW, Pak Lah says UMNO doesn’t need Lee Kuan Yew’s advice. Well, Lee Kuan Yew has advised US Presidentts and Chinese Premiers. Malaysian PMs do not need the advice of leading world thinkers becos they have Tun M and Tun Pak Lah – wow! and wow! – great thinkers and world leaders in their own right – wow! and wow!.

  6. #6 by Loh on Saturday, 18 September 2010 - 6:24 pm

    ///Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today hosted an Aidilfitri “open house” in his Pekan constituency, and called on Malaysians to carry on the open house///

    Read more: http://www.nst.com.my

    Ya, the open principle is that once a year citizens get to feast at government expense, and government leaders look good as hosts, but they get not only to feast in more occasions at different places but also to help themselves with government funds to become wealthy. Yes, a great tradition should continue, till the oil is dried up do they part.

  7. #7 by Loh on Saturday, 18 September 2010 - 6:35 pm

    ENDANGERED HORNBILL :
    BTW, Pak Lah says UMNO doesn’t need Lee Kuan Yew’s advice. Well, Lee Kuan Yew has advised US Presidentts and Chinese Premiers. Malaysian PMs do not need the advice of leading world thinkers becos they have Tun M and Tun Pak Lah – wow! and wow! – great thinkers and world leaders in their own right – wow! and wow!.

    AAB selectively comment based on his perception whether the interview between New York Times and Lee Kuan Yew intended for the benefit of UMNO. Lee Kuan Yew would not be bothered talking about a failed state let alone the players who produced that failed state. He mentioned in passing his involvement in the creation of a nation and why that project failed.

    Though AAB completed his high school education in English in Bukit Mertajam High School in English before English was replaced by Malay, he possess an unusually poor standard of English to discern that Lee Kuan Yew gave UMNO advice.

  8. #8 by Godfather on Saturday, 18 September 2010 - 6:38 pm

    What Gopal Sri Ram has said are things that we already know. What I would like to know is why he stayed on until retirement and then spoke his mind about the need for the separation of powers between the executive and the judiciary. Did he try to correct the problems from within ? Or was he too worried about his ricebowl to speak out when he was on the bench ?

    Was he afraid of being assassinated, as in the Pelican Brief ?

  9. #9 by Godfather on Saturday, 18 September 2010 - 6:39 pm

    Trust me, Badawi would be hard pressed to understand 50 pct of what Lee Kuan Yew said to the NY Times.

  10. #10 by House Victim on Saturday, 18 September 2010 - 7:21 pm

    Sri Ram should have said the Constitution has been BIAS, Jurdiciary system has not looked at JUSTICE!! The minority referred by him should be those who had not Ganged-up and it is a very very minority. It is so only in the Jurdiciary System but everywhere in Malaysia.

    Gang-up is the Malasyian trend for most if not all!!

  11. #11 by boh-liao on Saturday, 18 September 2010 - 7:24 pm

    BTW, LeeKY is now visiting Russia, Kiev n Paris fr Sep 16—25 2010
    Any foreign gomen interested 2 meet AAB, MMK?
    NR n LHL will be meeting in Sg on Mon

    NR hosting open houses here n there – Did he PAY 4 d open houses fr HIS OWN pockets or did he use our taxpayers’ $$$ 2 buy goodwill? Anyone knows d answer?

  12. #12 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 18 September 2010 - 7:42 pm

    Per Godfather’s comments in #8, Ex Judge Gopal Sri Ram could not, whilst he was a sitting judge, speak (as he recently did after he retired) of matters that might be deemed controversial, and by defenders of the administration, even seditious as they arguably undermine confidence in the administration of justice…because of this norm/convention that a sitting judge should not say or act in a manner that invites public controversy for the same reason that such conduct is construed, rightly or wrongly as inimical to public confidence in the administration of Justice.

    (At best he could as judge give some talk in some seminars or conference on “separation of powers” but not the present ills of the judiciary in the course of his making decisions as sitting judge).

    After retirement, its a different story like NH Chan.

    As to what he has done to “correct the problems from within”, I take it to mean what he had done in the course of his work then as judge, well for whatever it is worth, he has on his record two high profile cases in which he apparently ala Lord Denning’s fashion made comments or decision against the Establishment or Powers-That-be (identified with previous TDM administration):-

    1. in the case of Fawziah Holdings Sdn Bhd’s appeal against toll concessionaire Metramac Corporation Sdn Bhd for the loss of its advertising rights, he implicated Halim as crony of Daim Zainuddin and for that remark considered as indication of bias his decision was overruled by Federal court;

    2. the recent case where Singapore’s Genisys Integrated Engineers Pte Ltd (GIE) fought UEM over UEM’s handling of their joint venture company UEM Genisys Sdn Bhd (UEG)’s not pursuing debts of certain debtors togther with fraud allegations etc and UEM seeking winding up, Gopal decided at Court of Appeal in favour of GIE, not allowing the winding up, and requiring UEM to purchase from GIE its minority stake in UEG for some RM87 million – a decision reversed by Federal Court.

    I guess at this juncture. Separation of powers and all that (from within) is supposedly CJ Zaki’s job.

    There’s of course some speculation and controversy why Gopal Sri Ram changed course in terms of daring to boldly decide in a way that “Establishment” (however you understand this term to mean) would be unhappy with and since the Fawziah/Metramac case but we shan’t go into that here.

  13. #13 by drngsc on Saturday, 18 September 2010 - 8:08 pm

    Another one clearing his chest. Why are retired senior government servants so forthright, full of integrity and honour when they leave service, and so complaint with the gomen when in service, to do the gomen’s bidding like a pussy. Maybe it is the drinking water in Putrajaya, that makes them behave while in service. Now they see the light. Or maybe it is time to prepare to meet their maker.

  14. #14 by Taxidriver on Saturday, 18 September 2010 - 9:15 pm

    Let’s talk about the ” Punca Masalah” or Root Cause which is Mahathir’s favourite topic.

    Malaysia was once acknowledge as the Rising Tiger Of Asia because of its vast natural resouces like tin-ore, rubber, iron-ore, petroleum and whatever say you we have it. ( You want what I Tu You What. Loosely translated: I’ve got all that most other nations can only envy and dream of ), plus a governing structure inherited from the British. But sometime and somewhere along the road, something starts to go wrong. What is it?

    Because of the nation’s vast riches, elected leaders began to help themselves to some of it. Initially, it was a few hundred thousands, then it ‘graduated’ to a few millions. To help one’s self in this case is, of course, stealing.

    Later, another leader came along ( that year was 1974 if I remember correctly ) and the rest of the story you know lah. ( I don’t want to be ‘lor so’ or long-winded )

    What I want say is that we have become the Sick Man ( Tiger? ) Of Asia due to our own doing. By allowing materialism to permeate into our society, we all become too materialistic to such extent that everything else or whatever is going to happen or what is right and what is wrong is immaterial. ( The love of money is a root to all evils ) We allow those who we elect to office a free hand to our money and LORD over us in return for the scrumbs they throw to us.

    That in essence, is the ”Punca Masalah” Or, am I wrong, Tun MM?

  15. #15 by Taxidriver on Saturday, 18 September 2010 - 9:29 pm

    correction: ( 2nd last para, last line ) ‘scumbs’ and not ‘scrumbs’

  16. #16 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Sunday, 19 September 2010 - 6:02 am

    Jeffrey, Boh Liaos question #11:

    “NR hosting open houses here n there – Did he PAY 4 d open houses fr HIS OWN pockets or did he use our taxpayers’ $$$ 2 buy goodwill? Anyone knows d answer?”

    Is that fair? Not an even playing field as he is simply using up part of the alloted billions for PM’s Ministry for personal gains, at least largely.

  17. #17 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Sunday, 19 September 2010 - 6:06 am

    BTW, Gordon Brown’s Ministers helped themselves to the till to pay for some minor personal expenses and there was a parliamentary uproar. They had to reimburse the personal expenses.

    Then they lost the elections.

    Can we make sure BN loses the next GE elections for helping themselves to taxpayers money. I beleive MPs salaries and allowances are already tax-free.

  18. #18 by Comrade on Sunday, 19 September 2010 - 8:29 am

    Taxidriver #15, do you mean “crumbs”?

    They throw to us crumbs
    Some people must stop being dumb
    To continue to be under BN’s thumb
    For whom should we beat the drum?
    For PR and better dump the BN [email protected]

  19. #19 by Taxidriver on Sunday, 19 September 2010 - 9:16 pm

    Comrade,

    Thanks you for correcting my spelling. I appreciate it very much. Please feel free to to point out my mistakes in my future comments.

    God bless you.

  20. #20 by Taxidriver on Sunday, 19 September 2010 - 9:21 pm

    Comrade,

    Thank you for correcting my spelling. I appreciate it very much. Please feel free to pin point any mistakes in my future comment

    God Bless You.

  21. #21 by Comrade on Sunday, 19 September 2010 - 11:06 pm

    Hi, Taxidriver,

    It’s a pleasure. Do feel free to correct my errors too.

    May God give you peace and bless you too.

  22. #22 by ktteokt on Sunday, 19 September 2010 - 11:41 pm

    Malaysia is one nation in the world which is doing things opposite to the norm and trend of the world at large. Whilst other nations are protecting minorities, including former communist China, Malaysia is protecting the majority while marginalizing the minority!

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