I fully support the call by three former Court of Appeal judges for the re-opening of old cases of graft allegations against judges, including the 33-page complaint by Malaysia’s first judicial whistleblower in 1996 involving 112 allegations of corruption, abuses of power and misconduct against 12 judges, because witnesses might be prepared to come forward now.
The trio, Tan Sri V.C. George, Datuk Shaik Daud Ismail and Datuk K.C. Vohrah are right when they said that the public was not satisfied that previous allegations had been properly looked into.
In fact, following the testimonies in the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the V.K.Lingam Video Clip (2007-2008), I had reiterated in Parliament what I had raised in Parliament in 1996, calling for full investigations into the 112 allegations of judicial corruption, abuses of power and misconduct against 12 judges which had been made by a sitting High Court judge at the time, Datuk Syed Ahmad Idid Syed Abdullah Idid.
This is because the testimony at the Lingam Video Clip Royal Commission of Inquiry about bribery and corruption of judges, including the then Chief Justice, reminded Malaysians, especially political leaders, MPs, judges and lawyers of the notorious “Ides of March” speech in 1996, when the then Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah shocked Malaysians with the revelation of a “33-page poison-pen letter” which made 112 allegations of corruption, abuses of power and misconduct against 12 judges at the Conference of Judges in Kuching in March 1996.
Mohtar publicly issued a directive to the police to launch investigations to “ferret out” and “bring to justice” the “conspirators”, “brutish beasts” and “treacherous elements” out to “discredit the judiciary and subvert justice” in the country.
Four months later, Mohtar announced the close of the case when he revealed that a high court judge was the one behind the 33-page poison-pen letter against the judiciary and that the judge concerned had resigned.
The judge was Syed Ahmad Idid Syed Abdullah Idid, who had gone on public record a decade later to declare that his allegations were never really investigated, which had been confirmed by former Attorney-General Tan Sri Abu Talib who lamented that “on the other hand, the poor judge who wrote it was investigated”.
It is time that justice must be done in the case of Syed Ahmad Idid’s allegations in 1996.
But the re-opening of old cases of graft allegations against judges should not be confined to Syed Ahmad Idid’s allegations, but should include all allegations of judicial graft and misconduct since the sacking of Tun Salleh Abas and two Supreme Court judges, Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawanteh and Datuk George Seah in 1988, including the corruption cases referred to by the former Chief Justice, Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, who said publicly in March 2007 that there were judges who were corrupt but who failed to follow up such public exposes either with police reports or establishment of judicial tribunals against the corrupt judges concerned.
As George rightly pointed out, there is no statute of limitation on prosecuting crime and therefore no reason why old cases could not be re-opened.
The time has come to fully restore public confidence in the just rule of law and a truly independent judiciary in Malaysia by launching a clean-up of judicial graft in the past 25 years, including the re-opening of the 33-page allegations in 1996 by Malaysia’s first judicial whistleblower involving 112 allegations against 12 judges.
If there is no political will under the present administration to do justice to judges, whether currently serving or past judges, this is another reason why the time has come for change in the 13GE.
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