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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Safeguarding the Judiciary

What happened in 1988 to the Malaysian judiciary should go down in history as the day the Executive decided it was going to control all the instruments of power in the country; especially the Judiciary.

The end result was that Malaysia became a dictatorship but nicely disguised as a democracy as the populace was allowed the facade of going to the polls once every 5 years under the shadow of draconian laws like ISA, OSA and other emergency powers.

We were like wolves in sheep's clothing as far as practicing democracy was concerned.

It is good that the Bar Council is calling for a probe the judicial crisis of 1988 and today the Chief Justice has called for the Sessions Court judges and magistrates to come under the ambit of the Chief Justice.

I support the concept of an independent judiciary in a democratic country but before we elevate all the judges to such an elevated status we should conduct that probe. This will ensure that all cans of worms are opened for public scrutiny and maybe some judges may be given the option to retire early.

There should also be a mechanism whereby a judge is subject to a parliamentary committee before he/she is elevated to a higher level; similar to what happens in the USA. The President nominates a judge for the Supreme Court but the person has to appear before a board.

The very least we need to do as honest citizens is to clear the names of those judges who believed in their principles. We failed them in 1988 – let us do the right thing now.

Photo: Justice is like a colour – blue or white and only few grey areas

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