Thursday, September 20, 2007

Judicial Fiasco

If the judiciary is in trouble, it will spell trouble for the rest of us, citizens. In other democracies, the judiciary is supposed to be the guardian and interpreter of the rights ascribed to the people in the federal constitutions.

Reported in Malaysiakini.com, an expose on the No. 1 judge is serious and deserves our full attention.

An explosive video clip released shows senior lawyer VK Lingam in a phone conversation, purportedly with current Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, allegedly fixing the appointment of ‘friendly’ senior judges.

Background to the Lingam tape

The grainy eight-minute video footage was taken in 2002 at senior lawyer VK Lingam’s Kelana Jaya house. At that time, Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah was chief justice. Appointed in 2000, he was seen as a fresh break from his two previous predecessors - Mohd Eusoff Chin (1994-2000) and Abdul Hamid Omar (1988-1994). Dzaiddin was to retire in 2003, and the video showed Lingam expressing concerned that the outgoing CJ was moving his ‘men’ into top judiciary posts. The conversation revolved around the urgent need to get Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, then chief judge of Malaya - the judiciary’s No 3 - appointed as Court of Appeal president (No 2) and then chief justice (No 1). There was also the plan to get former attorney-general Mokhtar Abdullah, who was then a Federal Court judge, to replace Ahmad Fairuz as No 3. To do that, Lingam had roped in tycoon Vincent Tan, a close crony of then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, a key minister in PM’s Department. They were to talk to Mahathir on the appointment of judges.

Postscript

Ahmad Fairuz was appointeded Court of Appeal president in December 2002 - months after the telephone conversation. Dzaiddin stepped down as CJ in 2003 and he was replaced by Ahmad Fairuz. Mokhtar, however, could not take the No 3 post as he was in coma after suffering from a fall in August 2002. He died in 2003. Ahmad Fairuz' term as CJ will end in October 2007.

This allegation is very serious because it shows that those who are affluent and in the position of power can decide the fate of the nation even to the extent of influencing government decisions. Something must be done before our democracy is threatened and jeopardized.

I would like to thank some readers who have responded to my call for action. This is our first call for action. Please send a message out on the impact and implications of a judicial fiasco in the making. Malaysians must not be made to suffer from the actions of unscrupulous people.

RETURN POWER TO THE PEOPLE! SAY NO TO POWER CORRUPTION!