You know, for a moment many people in Malaysia thought the good independent judiciary are here again, but alas, the recent decision of the High Court to free Abdul Razak Baginda, who allegedly abetted in the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Sharibuu, on bond only has raised eyebrows on the non-discriminatory role of the Malaysian judiciary.
Malaysiakini reader Sulaiman Rejab wrote:
What is so special about Abdul Razak that he can be freed on a bond?
Perhaps not many Malaysians know that there is a difference between being released on bond and being freed on bail. Those who make bail will have to deposit a sum of money as stipulated by the court. However, in the case of a bond, the accused does not have to cough up the money. The person who places the bond just needs to promise the court that the specified sum of money will be paid if the accused does not show up in court.
In the case of Abdul Razak, it is RM1 million. You don't even to have to raise any money to put up a bond. My question is: Why the discrimination? Abdul Razak may be sick, but he can be taken to the hospital under the watchful eyes of the policemen or personnel from the prison authorities.
Was the High Court being fair or was it just practising double standards when it released Abdul Razak? Is it because Abdul Razak belongs to a think-tank linked to the deputy prime minister?
Well, he wasn't the only one who wrote in to query the Malaysian court's decision. Dr Munawar A Anees, who spent years in jail on accusation (since dismissed) that he and Anwar were engaged in sodomy wrote in from Los Angeles to say:
The news of Abdul Razak Baginda's court bond of RM1 million - without security - must have come as a rude shock to many who expected the unfolding of a murder trial that would have seen to be fair. That expectation was justified after Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's assurance that the culprits in this heinous crime would be brought to justice.
Bronchitis’ and ‘asthma’ were said to be the basis for the bond. These are not the type of ailments for which a Malaysian prison or a common hospital cannot provide adequate treatment. These are not the type of ailments that necessitate a person's evacuation from prison.
Legal precedents for allowing bond for someone charged with murder abetment and similar non-bailable offences have been cited in the media as much as the role of judicial prerogatives in such cases.
However, the legal treatment meted out to Anwar Ibrahim for the alleged offences of corruption and sodomy fails to substantiate these pious statements. He was brutally beaten by the then inspector-general of police resulting in severe spinal injuries. Photographs of his heavily bruised and bleeding face are among the permanent exhibits on the Internet. The offences for which he was charged were bailable. Yet, Anwar Ibrahim failed to receive a bail much less a bond! Does the judicial discretion in Malaysia override the legal provision too?
The judicial quarter and the media in Malaysia are facing a challenge of integrity in Altantuya's murder and Razak's bond for ‘bronchitis’. They must dispel the notion that preferential justice prevails in Malaysia. Moreover, the reputation of Malaysian hospitals seems to be at stake for not being able to treat common ailments.
I am NOT interested in cases like this alleged murder which has been why I haven't blogged on the case. But this posting is about our judiciary. Are they still subject to political pressure?