Waiting for a judicial break

Palace of JusticeI know many of you are expecting a story from me on the embattled Malaysian judiciary. I can’t publish my story yet because I’m still waiting for a break. At this moment, except for innuendoes, we’ve no confirmation that Mr V K Lingam, the Malaysian lawyer in private practice, was brokering the appointment of judges with the Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim (then the Chief Judge of Malaya) as portrayed in the video clip recently released by former deputy premier Mr Anwar Ibrahim.

A denial from Mr Ahmad Fairuz will be enough for me to publish my story. But to borrow a phrase from Mr Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz, the de facto law minister, the Chief Justice is “clever enough” not to do so.

Otto Von Bismarck (1815-1898), Germany’s first Chancellor, says: “Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.” All journalists should remember this maxim.

I don’t think an official denial from the Malaysian judiciary or the government is forthcoming. But I’m sure I’m going to have my break soon. Someone is going to make a faux pas.

Reading a report from Malaysiakini on the website of the Malaysian Bar, I do find that Mr Nazri has belittled the judiciary and insulted the intelligence of the “senior judge”.

Meanwhile, I’ve picked up something from the Guide to Judicial Conduct published by the Judges’ Council of England and Wales which offers much food for thought:

2 JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE

2.1 Judicial independence is sometimes mistakenly perceived as a privilege enjoyed by judges, whereas it is in fact a cornerstone of our system of government in a democratic society and a safeguard of the freedom and rights of the citizen under the rule of law. The judiciary, whether viewed as an entity or by its individual membership, is and must be seen to be, independent of the legislative and executive arms of government. The relationship between the judiciary and the other arms should be one of mutual respect, each recognising the proper role of the others. Judges should always take care that their conduct, official or private, does not undermine their institutional or individual independence, or the public appearance of independence.

2.2 The judicial oath provides:

“I will do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this Realm, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.”

In taking that oath, the judge has acknowledged that he or she is primarily accountable to the law which he or she must administer.

2.3 The oath plainly involves a requirement to be alert to, and wary of, subtle and sometimes not so subtle attempts to influence judges or to curry favour.

Moreover, in the proper discharge of duties, the judge must be immune to the effects of publicity, whether favourable or unfavourable. That does not of course mean being immune to an awareness of the profound effect judicial decisions may have, not only on the lives of people before the court, but sometimes upon issues of great concern to the public, concerns which may be expressed in the media.

2.4 Consultation with colleagues when points of difficulty arise is important in the maintenance of standards. In performing judicial duties, however, the judge shall be independent of judicial colleagues and solely responsible for his or her decisions.

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3 Responses to Waiting for a judicial break

  1. Antares says:

    Ahmad Fairuz, according to today’s headlines, has denied that it was him at the other end of V.K. Lingam’s telephone call. We await your next broadside with glee! 🙂

  2. Jonah says:

    Except for Malaysiakini, none of the other Malaysian news media mentioned Ahmad Fairuz by name. Perhaps Malaysiakini has a video or audio recording of Nazri saying that Ahmad Fairuz has denied that the person Lingam was talking to in the video clip is him?

    Even opposition leader Mr Lim Kit Siang says that “there is no proof that Ahmad Fairuz had actually denied that he was the person Lingam was talking to in the Lingam Tape…” http://blog.limkitsiang.com/2007/09/24/lingam-tape-credibility-of-fairuzs-denial-through-nazri-zero-like-earlier-case-on-abolition-of-common-law/

  3. juslo says:

    hey Jonah,

    i’ve said this when the news first broke, at:
    Dirty filthy ‘justice’ September 19, 2007
    http://elizabethwong.wordpress.com/2007/09/19/dirty-justice/#comment-20595
    what do u think?
    (waiting for your ‘break’…)

    5. juslo – September 20, 2007

    hang on a minute, people… we still cant jump to conclusions on the following critical facts:

    1. that the lawyer was vk lingam.
    only those who know him well would b able to confirm that identity, but i guess it’s pretty obvious, he cant run away with that.

    2. that the phone conversation was a ‘real’ one.
    mr vk said he was doing things ‘not for our self-interest, but for the country’, so there’s nothing to stop him from doing a ’self-sacrifice for the country’ again, by coming out to say that actually, people, i was just practising reading the lines of a ’satire play’ to entertain guests in tun dzaiddin’s birthday bash that year… or i was just talking to myself!!

    yes, i could b a lunatic sometimes. but call me whatever name u want, i CATEGORICALLY DENY that the person on the other line was ahmad fairuz, or ANY judge for that matter!!

    blow meh?!?!

    so, we cant really jump to conclusion that ahmad fairuz was ‘implicated’, n then call for judicial reform, revamp, revolution this n that, based on this video clip.

    BUT i know of a way to to get the chief justice to step down – TRUTH OR DARE.

    pkr should come out n say that “for your info (ahmad fairuz please pay special attention!!), we HAVE ANOTHER CLIP/audio recording of the person talking ON THE OTHER SIDE of the phone call… so, u better resign NOW!!”

    then, the chief justice would have to seriously consider resigning ‘on health reasons’ immediately, bcos he would have no way of confirming whether someone had managed to film him on the other end, more than 5 years ago… (hell, he might not even remember where da (deleted) he was during that conversation!!)

    or, he’ll play DARE – take a final gamble, betting that no such video/audio for ‘the other side’ exists. bcos IF indeed it exists, he’ll still have to resign n face the SAME charges n music LATER, ANYWAY – so why do it NOW??? wait n see lar…

    so, people, don’t get over excited just yet, like the bar council, (who has issued a statement jumping to many conclusions, impliedly. i think they’ll get into HELL LOT OF PROBLEMS if they go on to make any statement making more accusatory assumptions. we might end up having the whole bar council hauled up before the court for contempt!!! n wouldn’t that b a PERFECT PRETEXT for getting rid of u common-law-out-of-your-mind-kafirs, or at least to abolish the bar council altogether??)

    WATCH YOUR MOUTHS, people. u all should realise that EVEN IF this was true (i think it was), the government n the agong would NOT want to admit that such scandals really took place. they would do everything to downplay/eradicate ANY trace of wrongdoing if possible, so that they can protect the image (however despised by now) of the malaysian judiciary. they would prefer to let the chief justice go ‘quietly’ into his ‘retirement’, instead of having to take the drastic n shameful step of firing him, the great Champion of syariah-law-replacing-common-law.

    hehe…. god bless u, tun!! (n your family – i mean, your ‘brothers’ in-law (those u have appointed to the benches… of your dinner table)!!!

    ;P

    ———————————

    but the bar council n various NGO’s have issued statements calling for ‘royal commission’, ‘impeachment tribunals’ etc etc, which to me is, at least impliedly, making assumptions about the identity of the other person on the other side.

    will this b a ‘trap’??
    bcos frankly, for the power-that-be (including the Agong) to allow this thing to blow up is going to have far reaching consequences, so they’ll try to cover it up as much as they could, while ‘penalizing’ the people invovled ‘behind closed doors’ (such as early retirement).

    i doubt we’ll see this developing into a full-blown investigation/inquiry to hold the relevant ‘participants’ to account.

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