What has happened to the rule of law?

— P. Ramakrishnan
The Malaysian Insider
Sep 24, 2011

SEPT 24 — We must not forget the larger issues involved in the case simply because the government had decided to get out of a messy situation for its own good.

The Barisan Nasional government created this untenable position that cannot be sustained by logic and facts. As a cover-up for its high-handedness, it is posturing itself as a generous institution that is capable of being considerate. The fact is it is trying to extricate itself from this unjustified and cruel action against these helpless people who only meant well.

It is unthinkable that people will be deluded by this gesture of the police. Malaysians are no more gullible or naïve to be easily fooled by such tokenism. The reprehensible conduct of the police cannot be condoned.

These 30 PSM members are innocent and not guilty of any offence by any stretch of the imagination under any Malaysian law. That was the reason why the police tried desperately to incriminate them by all sorts of ridiculous accusations:

• They were accused of carrying weapons in their buses on June 25, 2011.

• They were accused of possessing subversive material.

• They were accused of attempting to wage war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

• They were accused of being a national threat.

The police invoked Section 122 of the Penal Code, Section 48 and Section 43 of the Societies Act, Section 29 (1) of the Internal Security Act and the Emergency Ordinance to build up a case that these are indeed dangerous criminals.

The police threw everything available at them in an attempt to crush them and frighten other Malaysians in an attempt to prevent them from joining the Bersih 2.0 Walk for Democracy.

They were incarcerated unjustly under intolerable conditions. On July 4 — after nine days of imprisonment — 24 of them were charged in court while the rest of the six were charged in court on August 3 after having been held for 28 days in solitary confinement.

The court imposed bail of RM8,000 each, which meant they had to scramble desperately to raise RM240,000 to seek their freedom — almost a quarter of a million ringgit! How could these poor people raise such a huge sum to post bail?

All this, however, failed to break the spirit of these 30 stalwarts; it failed to discourage outraged Malaysians from marching for democracy on July 9, 2011. If anything it only spurred Malaysians to discard their fear and stand up for their rights.

But the worrying thing about the whole episode involving these 30 Malaysians is the conduct of the police force. We are perturbed that the police can detain anyone under baseless charges with impunity. It looks that they can accuse anyone for whatever reason without a shred of evidence to back up their claim and detain them.

How could they accuse them of waging a war against the Agong, which is a serious criminal offence — Section 122 allows for 20 years or even life imprisonment — without an iota of incriminating evidence. This is clearly an abuse of their authority.

How could they accuse them of carrying weapons in their bus when no weapon was found in the bus?

How could they accuse them of possessing subversive material when this was not established?

How could they accuse them of being a national threat without proving the existence of such a threat?

Who cooked up these stories? Surely someone must be answerable. Who will be held accountable for this sordid affair? Shouldn’t the Inspector-General of Police who is the head of the police force be held accountable for this? Shouldn’t the Minister of Home Affairs be taken to task for this break-down in the rule of law?

Why didn’t the judge who is responsible for granting the remand order demand proof before granting such an order? Aren’t the fundamental rights and freedoms of a person his concern? Isn’t he the person who ensures that justice must be upheld and every person under the law is entitled to the protection of the law? Why did he fail miserably in his duty to uphold the constitution?

The rule of law should not become a myth in our country. The police must not be a law unto themselves. The rule of law must prevail at all times.

To prevent similar incidences from occurring in future we need to go deep into this episode and ferret out those who were callous in accusing innocent Malaysians without just cause. We need a Royal Commission of Inquiry to examine how and why the detention of the 30 PSM members took place.

We need to know what gives the police the authority to behave in the manner they have without being accountable for their action. We need to establish the fact that there is such a thing as Rule of Law in this country. — aliran.com

* P. Ramakrishnan is president of Aliran

  1. #1 by k1980 on Sunday, 25 September 2011 - 8:19 am

    //We need a Royal Commission of Inquiry to examine how and why the detention of the 30 PSM members took place.//

    Much like TBH’s RCI, the PSM RCI would find that the 30 PSM members were members of the Tamil Tigers seeking to become suicide members by hiding bombs in their turbans.

  2. #2 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 25 September 2011 - 8:22 am

    ///We need to establish the fact that there is such a thing as Rule of Law in this country.///-P. Ramakrishnan.

    For Rule of Law to subsist, politicians in power must uphold it. To uphold it they themselves must believe in it or, as more often the case, be pressured to observe it by those whom they govern, and whose votes they desire to get to win or stay in power. Which boils down to the fact that for Rule of Law to be cherished, the majority of rakyat must first understand and embrace it. Do they? If Merdeka Center poll were to do a survey and ask “Whats the Rule of Law and do you believe it and expect the govt. to do so” what will be the findings? Will there be a consensus? I very much doubt it. As things stand there is a question mark whether majority could articulate precisely what is their understanding of the Rule of Law. Indeed there is division on even the question of what is the law that the rule is about and what law to be followed – English law or Islamic Law (Hudud). This is even across the political divide. Najib/MCA probably refer to English law – and ironically even TDM though he did most to undermine it) but the no. 2 (Deputy PM) seems to think Hudud is Ok but not for now. In PR, PAS & even Anwar appear to take Muhyuddin’s stand – that its Ok for Muslims but not at this moment) whilst Karpal is no Hudud at all times, now or in the future….

  3. #4 by Bigjoe on Sunday, 25 September 2011 - 8:48 am

    Since we are on the subject of Tokenism, what about Muhiyiddin recent announcement that RCI for Sabah is not ruled out? If potentially an RCI is needed, URGENCY should be automatic. In other words, even if its just remotely needed, it should be done NOW because the issue is a matter of national security and the potential genocide of the people of Sabah.

    Muhiyiddin betray the kind of potential Chief Executive he is going to be. He is narrow minded and of limited bandwidth but deep in zealotry of his untranparent agenda.

    As far as Sabah and people like PSM are concern, Muhiyiddin attitude would be ‘they better fall in line and be happy with whatver he dishes out’…

  4. #5 by Taikohtai on Sunday, 25 September 2011 - 10:14 am

    Its true that BN is trying to camouflage and hoodwink its way back to Putrajaya come next GE. But isn’t that what they had always been doing for the past umpteen years? Waving of the crooked metal piece, the inevitable raising of May 13 incidents, etc had worked wonders to their long term tenancy. But its the younger generations these days who are really standing up against the miserable low lives. Now armed with what their parents and forefather never had, the young Malaysians have the internet and with that, a window to the rest of the world, including real pictures of stolen assets and palatial residents of their elected servants. When compared with what they are left with – limited and dwindlign places in unis, work and everything else, of course they will take the risk and look for alternatives.

  5. #6 by yhsiew on Sunday, 25 September 2011 - 10:47 am

    ///We are perturbed that the police can detain anyone under baseless charges with impunity. It looks that they can accuse anyone for whatever reason without a shred of evidence to back up their claim and detain them.///

    The PDRM should stop making itself a laughing stock of the world by carrying out primitive, uncivilized policing.

    Undemocratic, primitive policing will only frighten off prospective foreign investors.

  6. #7 by sheriff singh on Sunday, 25 September 2011 - 11:11 am

    What is the meaning of “The Rule of Law”? How would you define it?

    Would it depend on who is ruling and what sort of rulers he (they) are using to measure? Sometimes the ruler can’t do much.

    Remember what the (then) PM Mahathir revealed recently that he could not do very much about ‘Operation Lallang’ back in 87/88 when the Police indicated they wanted to act. He had to step aside and watch, he said, and is therefore not really accountable or responsible. ‘They had guns’ (or something like that), he lamented. Is this one of the meanings of ‘The Rule of Law’?

  7. #8 by boh-liao on Sunday, 25 September 2011 - 11:29 am

    What’s d TITLE of dis posting? “Next Post?”

  8. #9 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 25 September 2011 - 11:53 am

    ///What is the meaning of “The Rule of Law”? How would you define it? Would it depend on who is ruling and what sort of rulers he (they) are using to measure?///- sheriff singh.

    Of course. English legacy rule of law encompasses persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated with basic constitutionally protected civil liberties of individual to religion movement, speech (abridged only if they go overboard and harm others’ equal rights). Right from beginning the Federal Constitution promulgated has made compromises. For example, equal rights have been abridged by Malay Privileges (Article 153). Because of race/communal based politics (since days of Alliance), the Rule of Majority/Ketuanan (after May 13, 69’) has gained ground instead of receding over time. The Rule of Majority would include the dominance and sanctity of the Majority’ adapt language custom culture religion and traditional institutions – and by extension, political party’ interest.

  9. #10 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 25 September 2011 - 12:05 pm

    Continuing from preceding post (currently moderated): This upholding of the overarching Rule of Majority/Ketuanan is easily interpreted co-extensive with the survival and interest of the ruling party that represents the majority. As this Rul mof mjority/Ketuanan abridges and qualifies the traditional Western concept of Rule of Law -and this implies that in a conflict between Rule of Law and Rule of Majority’s Interest, the latter prevails – it then becomes natural that the 30 PSM members supporting Bersih and indirectly acting against UMNO’s political interest were arrested. The justification lies in their transgression of the Rule of Majority that the Ruling Party upholds and represents.

  10. #11 by boh-liao on Sunday, 25 September 2011 - 12:16 pm

    Fu/fu/fu, HU/HU/HU, is dis d ill wind dat will blow d house of PR down like BA previously
    Self implosion of PR while NR riding bus into d sunset

  11. #12 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 25 September 2011 - 1:20 pm

    Typo mistake- ‘adat’, not ‘adapt’ in #9. Surely it must be recognised that it is this deference (whether openly or tacitly espoused or admitted or otherwise) to the Rule of Majority over Rule of Law that underpins everything and every major controversy throughout the land whether across the political divide or within each political divide – from the recent Utusan’s likening Lim Guan Eng to Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew for allegedly bad-mouthing Johor to rift in ideological position between DAP/Karpal and PAS/Nik Aziz/Anwar support of hudud in PR side and on BN side between Najib/MCA and the other right wingers/hardliners.

  12. #13 by DAP man on Sunday, 25 September 2011 - 3:29 pm

    “Why didn’t the judge who is responsible for granting the remand order demand proof..”

    Let me explain. This is Malaysian Justice. As soon as the police prosecutor finishes his/her mumbo jumbo application the magistrate immediately approves the remand order.
    It’s so simple. At times it all over within 5 minutes.
    Even for stealing a chicken or refusing to show one’s license to the police the court allows a five day remand.
    Only 1 in a 100 cases, a remand order is refused.

  13. #14 by boh-liao on Sunday, 25 September 2011 - 4:36 pm

    What rule of law? UmnoB/BN n their agencies n kaki2 hv always been a law un2 themselves
    Cheat n lies, n getting away with murder r their trademarks n privileges

    Now Bernama lied LGE stated ‘Johor is not a safe state’ in an interview with Radio Australia, n very quickly Moooo swallowed d lie n began 2 hentam LGE, chain reaction mah fr lies

    Perkosa too live a law un2 themselves – they want 2decide what public s’nar is ON/OFF

    Not surprising d above happened, cos leadership by example lor 上梁不正下梁歪

  14. #15 by boh-liao on Sunday, 25 September 2011 - 4:42 pm

    DON’T underestimate Perkosa n their members – no rule of law but above d law
    Violence/lawless is my middle name; stones, water bottles (what else?) r my companions

  15. #16 by boh-liao on Sunday, 25 September 2011 - 4:51 pm

    Nice YELLOW T-shirt n nice Pg state color; how come d boh hood fella no in Pg state color; also where’s d short fat femme fatale, no cycling 1, even on tricycle also OK what

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