We urge the Perak Sultan to dissolve the assembly
By Koon Yew Yin
23rd May 09
Malaysian Courts: Going Super Fast
Allow me to share a quote of wisdom : 'Though the wheels of justice grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small; Though with patience he stands waiting, with exactness grinds he all'.
I have read that there was a case of medical negligence, and involving the death of a lawyer, which took 23 years to reach our Court of Appeal. Yet these slow grinding wheels seem to have become supercharged for the benefit of Zambry Abd Kadir.
When the High Court on May 11 recognised Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin as the rightful Menteri Besar of Perak, the Court of Appeal lost no time in granting Zambry a stay of execution on the High Court decision. It did so within a few hours, in fact.
Malaysian courts are now creating a record with their supersonic speed in disposing cases. Yesterday (Friday, May 22), the appellate court overturned the High Court judgment favouring Nizar, and instead ruled that Zambry is the legitimate Menteri Besar.
Justices Md Raus Sharif, Zainun Ali and Ahmad Maarop made a unanimous decision in favour of Zambry, prompting Nizar's lead counsel Sulaiman Abdullah to comment that Malaysia has extraordinary judges who can pass extraordinary judgment.
Beyond the Political Checkmate
Obviously we will never see the end of Perak's battles in the courts. No sooner the court decides on one case, another legal suit pops up. Justice NH Chan has already written several articles on the Perak constitutional crisis. He had earlier boldly pointed out five errant judges; perhaps he will soon finger three plus one more.
In the meantime and on another front, Speaker V. Sivakumar has just filed a suit against R. Ganesan who took over his chair – literally – albeit with a little help from his 'friends' (the security men from outside the dewan) during the state assembly sitting in Ipoh on May 7.
So what we have is the curious cases of Menteri Besar One vs Menteri Besar Two, and Speaker One vs Speaker Two fighting it out in the courts with numerous suits and counter suits.
I wrote ‘Checkmate Barisan Nasional in Perak’ on March 21 premised on the term ‘checkmate’ in chess when an opponent has no further move to protect his king. There seems to be no viable state government now in Perak with both the BN and Pakatan Rakyat continuously checking each other's move.
I had then suggested that a quick return to the ballot box was the only morally and legally defensible option, and also the way out of this political quagmire. But Perak has remained stuck in an impasse precisely because the vote has not been returned to the rakyat.
It is expected that if Ganesan is pronounced rightful Speaker by the court, he would be calling an emergency session to oust Nizar and counting on the three defectors to deliver Barisan Nasional its majority. Is it fair for the overwhelmingly Umno-dominated coalition to govern the state by depending solely on its so-called three 'independents friendly to BN', especially when two of those assemblymen are under investigation for corruption?
On May 8, I wrote another article ‘Treason of the Malaysian hawks’ – the phrase 'treason of the hawks' borrowed from American policy analyst Fred Ikle – and which I found useful in that 'treason' bears some equivalence to the Malay term 'derhaka’.
It is treasonous if the opposing halves, by fighting too much and too long, eventually bring about untold damage to the state. In my second article on the Perak deadlock, I again urged that only the ballot box can determine the people's choice and who it is that possesses the people's trust to rule Perak.
The Sultan, the Raja Muda and Past Words of Wisdom
As a Perakian, I am very disturbed and saddened by the current uncertainty in my beloved but politically volatile state. These protracted legal tussles are undermining the rule of law and might I add, the monarchy too. It is particularly disheartening to observe the rule of law eroded in a state governed by no less than a former Lord President of the Supreme Court, the eminent Sultan Azlan Shah.
Like all Malaysians, during the past two years prior to the elections, I was very impressed by the inspiring speeches given by the Perak monarch and his son, crown prince Raja Nazrin Shah.
In his address at the 14th Malaysian Law Conference in October 2007, his Royal Highness said,
“All countries, including those that are totalitarian regimes, have courts. But as I observed previously, 'The [mere] existence of courts and judges in every ordered society proves nothing; it is their quality, their independence, and their powers that matter'.”
Sultan Azlan had also noted that “In matters concerning the judiciary, it is the public perception of the judiciary that ultimately matters. A judiciary loses its value and service to the community if there is no public confidence in its decision-making”.
The Raja Muda who holds a doctorate in Political Economy and Government from Harvard University ranks no lesser in degree of wisdom to the exalted father. It is a measure of the man – to be filling the shoes of such a giant in law – that Raja Nazrin's advice is equally learned.
In his keynote address in conjunction with National Integrity Day last year, Raja Nazrin said, “Generally, the Rulers act based on the advice by government leaders elected by the people. Nevertheless, the Rulers cannot accede to acts which do not symbolise justice or sanction moves which do not mirror truth.
“The Rulers’ views, observation and counsel in the administrative affairs of the country touching on the question of integrity which encompasses justice, law, judiciary, misappropriation, power abuse, corruption and wealth distribution, are with the desire to strengthening the Government so that it is stable and receives people’s trust.”
Raja Nazrin has spoken many times on the importance of upholding the Federal Constitution in keeping the nation united and cohesive. He once quoted the words of renowned jurist Baroness Helena Kennedy, a QC: “The rule of law is one of the tools we use in our stumbling progress towards civilising the human condition: a structure of law, with proper methods and independent judges, before whom even a government must be answerable”.
Only last year at the 17th Tun Ismail Ovation, Raja Nazrin drew much admiration when he told the audience, “Walking the talk is therefore more than just a nice maxim. It is integral to what good leadership is about and what being a leader means.”
As a loyal subject of Perak state , I and my fellow Perakians have been blessed with the sterling leadership shown by our royal house. Last month during the Perak awards ceremony in conjunction with his birthday celebration, Sultan Azlan reinforced our long-held conviction when he said, “The rulers have a far wider responsibility in ensuring that the spirit of the Constitution, the philosophy behind the written law, and the interest of the country and the people are safeguarded at all times.”
Raja Nazrin Shah on the same occasion said he would make all efforts to ensure the institution of royalty, which was core to the system of governance and nationhood in the country, continues to be protected.
Perak Royalty’s Duty
To safeguard the interest of the country and the institution of royalty, the voice and will of the rakyat must be respected. It has to be called on to be heard - in one way or another - because though the wheels of justice grind slowly, they grind exactingly. To the letter of the law a government must be answerable, and the one standing above politics must be accountable. In my humble opinion, Perak will regain its shine and the people's trust when the Sultan accedes to the dissolution of the state assembly. Once again, we urge Sultan Azlan Shah to dissolve the state assembly.
Mr Koon Yew Yin is a 76 years old retired Chatered Civil Engineer who lives in Perak.