Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Royal Commission - Suggestion to Lim Kit Siang

Malaysiakini carries a number of news articles about the Royal Commission that PM AAB has agreed will be set up to examine the case of the Lingam videotape. We have the Lingam brothers accusing each other, one of alleged ‘fixing’ of judicial appointments and the other of requiring ‘fixing’ of his mental faculties.

Then another Malaysiakini news article has Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang of the DAP proposing his dream team which he wants headed by royalty. I have stated that it’s improper to involve royalty in public inquiries. And the royalty shouldn't have their cake of teflonised immunity and eat it as well (mind you, to be fair, they haven't indicated their acceptance of Lim's proposal, but I'll be pretty pissed if they do).

I strongly believe Uncle Lim needs to take note that anyone who has the slightest, even indirect connection to an issue that may arise in the Royal Commission’s probe should not be proposed/appointed for fear of the investigation being compromised in mid stream.

Unfortunately in Malaysia, you can hardly find someone in that category to sit on Royal Commission who’s not connected in some small ways or holds a strong position or opinion about the judiciary. The ideal team should be foreign judges, and I am not proposing those from Asean or Sri Lanka, but rather from other Commonwealth nations like India, Australia, New Zealand etc - the further and least connected with Malaysia, the better.

Of course this is only a theoretical sugegstion as both national pride and political expediency/survival would never ever countenance such a proposal.

Reading through the archives, the case involving the trial of former Lord President Salleh Abbas was the most unjust of all for two reasons – (1) he was judged by his immediate subordinate who stood to gain personally if he (Salleh Abbas) was damned, and (2) the subordinate had the unmitigated shame to accept that appointment to judge his superior.

Whether Salleh Abbas was deserving of the sacking was beside the point, and even if he was, his ‘guilt’ paled against the above two sins of 'injustice in series'.

We have since learnt that Salleh Abbas’ subordinate who judged and found him guilty was indeed promoted into his (Salleh’s) vacated position as Lord President.

I blogged sometime ago as follows:

According to Malaysiakini, “… in 1988, Salleh, the former lord president, was found guilty of judicial misconduct by a special tribunal chaired by Hamid. At that time, Hamid was acting lord president and next in line to succeed Salleh.”

“Strong objections, especially from the Bar Council, were raised then over Hamid’s role in the tribunal.”

According to Param Cumaraswamy, then president of the Bar Council during the 1988 crisis, he went to see Hamid about the blatant ‘conflict of interest’. He said:

“We went to see Hamid to advise him not to accept the position for the obvious reason that he was next in line. I advised Hamid ‘please don’t (accept), you will cause a very ugly embarrassment to the judiciary.”

Param revealed Hamid’s reply: “His (Hamid’s) response was ‘Param, if I don’t accept, I will be sacked. If I am sacked, will you or your Bar Council compensate my losses of remuneration?’”

I am just staggered by such an unmitigated disgraceful, shameless and selfish response.

Param also quoted Hamid as telling him defiantly, “Param, if you want, you can go and advise the King” to which Param shot back at Hamid, telling him that as acting Lord President, he was in a better position to advise the King.

I wonder who was the King then?

We also know that judges may only be appointed by His Majesty on the advice of the cabinet.

Yes, indeed, Uncle Lim should find out who was the King who approved, of course on the cabinet's advice, Hamid’s ascendancy into the position that Salleh Abbas was ousted from?

Afterall, Lim said yesterday, as reported by Malaysiakini in Royal commission must 'go beyond Lingam tape':

“The royal commission should be empowered not only to investigate every aspect of the issues featured in it, but also all aspects affecting the independence and integrity of the judiciary in the past two decades.”

Indeed, I would include looking into whether there was then any royal objections to Hamid’s appointment.


  1. "The ideal team should be foreign judges, and I am not proposing those from Asean or Sri Lanka, but rather from other Commonwealth nations like India, Australia, New Zealand etc - the further and least connected with Malaysia, the better."

    Well said. Now your astute mind is in its proper place. Uncle Kit should demand nothing less.
    Anything less would not fully restore the integrity and independency of the judiciary.

  2. Lord President Salleh Abas was not given a fair trial. In fact there should not have been any trial at all. The whole episode was sickening exercise which is now being mastered by another dictator Pervez Musharraf.

    If a similar pack of judges like the one for Lord Salleh Abbas is set up - we might as well say Good Bye to any iota of justice in this country now and in the future.

    In the course of time we will become the laughing stock of ASEAN and the whole world and stand in equal rank with Zimbabwe; Pakistan; Burma; and other Banana Republics. That will later lead to chaos and ruin for this wonderful paradise on Earth.

  3. The Agong in 1988 was Sultan Iskandar of Johor. He was in a weak position to do or say anything contrary to Mahathir's bidding. Mahathir helped "settle" a personal disgrace on the Sultan's part, and he was basically under the PM's thumb.

    Wikipedia has a take on this, even though it has never been reported in the local press.


    This was 20 years ago. I'm more optimistic now that at least some of the royalty are now behaving quite differently.