Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The rule of law and judicial integrity in Malaysia.





The probe on three judges for alleged corrupt practices is a good start towards restoring confidence in the rule of law and judicial integrity in Malaysia.

It can’t be denied that a cloud of suspicion has been hanging over it since a sitting High Court judge made 112 allegations against 12 of his peers in an anonymous 33-page letter in 1996. The judge, Datuk Syed Ahmad Idid, came out openly 10 years later to admit he wrote it and that the accusations were 

never investigated properly.

Three eminent former Court of Appeal judges have now called for the allegations against the 12 judges to be re-examined.

Adding to the dark cloud is the fact that the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the infamous “Correct, Correct” video clip invol­ving a judge and lawyer V.K. Lingam remains unresolved.

Five years ago, the then Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi spoke openly of graft involving the bench, claiming that he personally knew of two retired judges suspected to be corrupt. He highlighted corruption at the lower levels of the system and even admitted to paying bribes himself as a lawyer to ensure that his files were attended to.

Three weeks ago, the current CJ, Tun Arifin Zakaria, raised the issue of judicial corruption again by urging lawyers and the public not to bribe the judges, stressing that both the giver and taker were equally guilty.

The much touted noble profession, like all other vocations, has its share of crooks who can fix the outcome of cases. Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee, when asked if behind every corrupt judge there is almost always a corrupt lawyer, responded with“I agree, it is likely; not always, but likely.”

The Bar Council is aware of corruption involving lawyers as givers or facilitators of bribes, and has so far reported three alleged cases of tainted judges to the MACC.

A retired Court of Appeal judge and two High Court judges are currently under probe. The amount in alleged corruption in the cases involves millions of ringgit.

It is a good start towards restoring public confidence in the rule of law and judicial integrity as the credibility of the country’s judicial systems is dependent upon the conduct and image of judges appointed to the exalted office.

As the ultimate custodians of public trust, the men and women who wield the gavel are expected to be persons of unsullied honor and high moral values.

They are expected to remain above suspicion and dispense justice with honesty, objectivity and fairness.

The Spanker says
The symbol of a balanced scale is not in vogue these days as people have become so political that they have become grossly unbalanced in their thinking. There isn't much fairness nowadays. Everything is political.

To boost their popularity, Opposition politicians have always been alleging that the impartiality of the judiciary has been compromised. Yes, I agree that there are some cases with rather mind-boggling verdicts. But how about the other cases when judges ruled against the government? The latest is yesterday's High Court quashing the MACC notice to lawyers Latheefa Bebe Koya and Murnie Hidayah Annuar. How come no one has said anything bad about the judiciary this time?

The government too appears to be imbalanced. When Perkasa chief, Ibrahim Ali did a war dance and called for the burning of Bibles, no action has been taken against him todate although lesser deeds by others would immediately have the perpetrators pulled in.

What has happened to our sense of fairness? Regardless of our political inclination, we must yet be fair. Give credit to others when credit is due, critique only when it is necessary to do so.

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