Thursday, December 13, 2007

Zaki Azmi as Chief Justice - 2 different perspectives

As a Penangite I always have a soft spot for The Star because I look fondly upon it as a Penang newspaper – yes, once as a young kid I was a Star newspaper boy selling copies to adults to earn the odd ringgit or so.

A couple of days ago I read sweetie Chelsea Ng’s write-up on the new top appointments in the judiciary. She wrote:

The Prime Minister brought very good news when he announced the appointment of two respectable personalities to fill the top two posts in the judiciary. This could see a start to a healthier epoch for the oft-criticised institution.

“... brought very good news ...”? "... healthier epoch ..."?

Yes, dear Chelsea was talking about Abdul Hamid Mohamad's elevation to the post of Chief Justice, and get this ... :( ... Zaki Azmi as the No 2 man on the Bench.

OK, forget about Abdul Hamid Mohamad – it’s the No 2 who’ll be No 1 in around 9 months that I want to talk about. Continuing with some extracts of what the sweetie wrote:

Zaki’s unprecedented leap to the Federal Court and, shortly after that, to the number two position in the judiciary has raised many eyebrows in the legal fraternity. While most people agree that he would make a very good judge – he has fortitude and intellect – some thought that his appointment would serve as a clear example of the need for some sort of a Judicial Appointment Commission.

However, we should not be too troubled by this view. The fact that many thought that both these top two judges were the best choice proves that the Prime Minister and the King must have consulted quite a few right people beforehand.

“... many thought ...” that Zaki was the best choice for the No 2 going on to No 1?

Who have been these 'many' so-called thinking people ... other than UMNO? The MCA?

Continuing with Cheryl’s Chelsea's mythology ...

This is definitely a good sign for the judiciary.

“... good sign ...” hahahahahahahhaahhahaha, where did sweetie Cheryl Chelsea come from? Yes, yes, yes, ..... from the Star hahahahhahahahahahahaha

Hey my dear, this was what Kim Quek wrote in Malaysiakini about Zaki Azmi, Judicial rot: From one nightmare to another?, a title that’s surely self explanatory on Kim’s opinion of the new No 2 soon to be No 1 Judge. Extracts of his article are:

In fact, when Zaki was appointed a Federal Court judge in September, he was instantly recognized at home and abroad as the person planted to the highest court to succeed Fairuz, whose request for a six-month extension of service beyond his mandatory retirement on Oct 31 was not accepted by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Such instant recognition of Zaki’s mission came from his deep involvement with Umno as a key party player. He was chairman of the party’s election committee, deputy chairman of its disciplinary board of appeal, party legal adviser etc.

As Umno’s legal man, he was involved with the party’s myriad of scandalous financial misadventures that were bailed out by the government in the heydays of Mahathir’s crony-capitalism during the last Asian financial crisis. One prominent example is the RM3 billion loan scam in the disastrous acquisition of Philippines’ National Steel Corp (NS) by Umno’s financial proxy Halim Saad.

When the shares of NS became scrap, four top Malaysian banks were made to stomach the entire RM3 billion losses. And Zaki was then a director of the investment vehicle - Hottick Investment Ltd of Hong Kong – which borrowed the RM3 billion and embarked on the acquisition of NS.

Well, dear Cheryl Chelsea, is Zaki’s entry into the upper echelon of the bench still a ‘good sign’? ;-)

But Cheryl Chelsea shocked, nay, shattered me with what she said next:

Perhaps it is also timely for us to remind ourselves here that independent decisions should not necessarily be those that are anti-government or anti-establishment. Many have perceived judge’s independence wrongly by equating anti-establishment with objectivity. We are not seeking judges who run down the country or its people using court proceedings or judgments.

Fair enough, up to this stage. Now, for the unbelievable:

A retired senior judge, known for his independence and judicial brilliance, once made it clear that the Internal Security Act (ISA) could not be abolished.

How true. It may be a draconian legislation but it is sometimes necessary to bring peace and stability to a country during trying times.

The eminent judge had said that good judges would not resort to using such a law during peaceful time but would not hesitate supporting its use during periods of anarchy.

Cheryl Chelsea oh Cheryl Chelsea, you broke me poor heart by your sad silly and sorry argument for the ISA. Well, apart from that, why don't you name that retired 'eminent judge' instead of no-name dropping all over, or is this the new Star style of journalism?

And then she ended with:
Now with our judiciary looking like it is on the road to recovery, we will be expecting the emergence of more independent judgments.

Hahahhahahaha sob sob sob ........

Did I mention I’ve always had a soft spot for The Star because I look upon it fondly as a Penang newspaper – yes, I did say too I used to be a Star newspaper boy selling the papers to adults - but Cheryl Chelsea has finally destroyed that fond impression of many years standing.

Kim Quek tells us more:

Apart from acting as Umno’s nominee, Zaki also has held directorship in scores of major companies including some of the most well known names such as Berjaya, Metacorp, Pan Global, SP Setia, Malaysia Airports, Hume, Matsushita Electric, Pharmaniaga etc. Zaki was reported by Bernama on April 21 this year to have said that his 58% owned Emrail Sdn Bhd, a railway specialist company, had only the government as employer, and that he was earnestly soliciting contracts in the northern and southern portions of the double-tracking project to turn the cash-strapped Emrail around.

Such political and business background would already have made him a poor candidate for any judicial appointment, Zaki is battered by yet another serious handicap – the question of his moral integrity arising from his controversial marriage and divorce from his second wife Nor Hayati Yahaya, who was half his age.

Now, the second paragraph is the part I don’t like to read about, in the same way I don’t want to read about the salacious sorry sordid allegations of Anwar Ibrahim and his sexual proclivity, because it’s totally irrelevant to my take on who makes a good, reliable and reasonably honest leader. I have been judging Anwar only on his past policies and political track record, full stop.

However, one incident about Zaki’s second marriage caught my eye ‘ere I skipped over the offending paragraphs:

Zaki married Nor Hayati in a ceremony conducted by a kadi from Thailand in a textile shop in Perlis in March 2005. They separated three months later. In the messy divorce that ensued, it was revealed that Zaki burned the original marriage certificate to hide the marriage from his first wife. Further, the marriage was ruled by the Syariah Court as illegal.

Above underlining mine – a person who would go to that extent must be still in love with the original wife ;-) because they say Omnia Vincit Amor (Love conquers all), even unto the naughty act of burning marriage certificate - but we aren’t talking about issues of passion here but rather, Malaysia’s top judicial appointment.

Should such a person, taken to burning his marriage certificate (with his second wife) to hide same from (No 1) wife, be a judge?

Continuing ...

Following the revelation of Zaki’s marital trouble, he resigned as deputy chairman of Umno’s disciplinary board, for which he commented: “Considering that members of the disciplinary board are of the highest integrity, I have made this decision following reports in the media ….” (New Straits Times, 9 Aug 2005)

The question we must ask now is: If Zaki is morally unfit to serve in Umno’s disciplinary board, how could he be considered morally fit to be a federal court judge, not to mention his lightning elevation to the No.2 position, and anticipated imminent rise to the top job in the judiciary?

Now, I know Kim Quek is from the PKR and I normally read articles written by politicians with some caution, but I have to say in Kim’s unfolding of his case against Zaki, it’s a damn good question – a very relevant and important query given Zaki is being fast tracked for the top judicial position.

Yes, if Zaki is morally unfit even to serve on Umno’s disciplinary board, good lord, how could he ever be considered morally fit to be a federal court judge?

Kim asked in disgust:
Is this country so poor in legal talent and integrity that we have no choice but to appoint someone so glaringly unsuited for such important judicial position arising from his multiple conflicts of interests and questionable integrity?

If not, then why did the prime minister make such a move? If it is not to advance the prime minister’s and Umno’s interests, then what motivated such an appointment?

Another damn good question, that is, if Big Ears are listening at all. And P Ramakrishnan wrote a letter to Malaysiakini titled Zaki - no saving grace for the judiciary where he too asked:

We are indeed shocked that a person so junior in rank with nothing outstanding about him should now outrank all the serving senior judges, some of whom are most deserving of this exalted position. It is very disturbing that Zaki is set to become the next chief justice within a year. Is the prime minister telling the entire nation that there are no better judges in terms of seniority, experience, diligence and integrity on the bench that can be considered for this top post? It would be laughable if someone were to answer "Yes" to this question.

The battered image of the judiciary will not be improved by this shocking appointment that goes against the grain of public opinion. It is a pity that good sense has failed to prevail. When the judiciary is low on public opinion, it is a terrible mistake to parachute someone so closely associated with Umno to the top position. This appointment smacks of political intervention to safeguard the interests of the executive rather than to protect the integrity of the judiciary. It is no wonder that many eyebrows were raised when the announcement was made public.

Kim continued: We have already seen in the infamous Lingam video clip how the former chief justice betrayed his oath of allegiance to the country and the Constitution by crawling to serve the parochial interests of his political and business masters, thus confirming the common knowledge of the depth of degradation our judiciary has sunk.

Ouch and double, triple ouch!

I won’t torture you dear readers anymore but to end with these two paragraphs of Kim’s:

Taking cue from this observation, Zaki’s appointment is an unmitigated disaster, as even if he has the superhuman capability to totally severe his umbilical cord to the ruling party and his commercial interests to eliminate conflict of interests, there is still the insurmountable problem of public perception. With Zaki’s questionable background, there is no way he can command complete public confidence, particularly when the interests of Umno or his businesses are involved.

Coming at a time when Malaysia’s competitiveness is fast losing ground, which has been contributed in no small way by its worsening judiciary image, such a daring raid on the sanctimonious ground of neutrality as the judiciary through planting a party stalwart to take over its control is destined to bring ruinous consequences to this country. Not even in the height of Mahathir’s autocracy would such a reckless adventure be contemplated.

Dear Cheryl Chelsea Ng, this is serious, we better have a word or two together on what you have written.

The Dream Team in the Judiciary from BolehTalk.


  1. When the chances of raising a Lazarus appears slim with a Jocelyn, try a Chelsea, mah.

  2. Zaki the UMNO lawyer was at one time deemed morally unfit not to sit on the UMNO disciplinary committee.

    Apparently he burnt his wedding certficate when `illegally` taking a second wife.

  3. Oh, neither the cheryl nor the jocelyn were the 2nd wife nor the 1st wife.
    Of course. the Star is setting a new wave of thinking. They should hasten the process by employing mat rempits to counteract Ronald Quay`s letter on M`kini ripping apart VK Chin.

  4. Today`s Sun has reported in detail the suit filed by Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat.
    The Star has left certain `sensitive` details out.

  5. mental jog

    well with zaki going to be CJ in 9 months time, maybe we can look forward to another 'lingam phone' drama.

  6. what chreyl wrote is no mythology. its the STAR way to be the mouthpiece of the government.
    kaytee, you are just normal having the soft spot for this paper. nostalgia abounds and is onyl human. but its history. its no longer the people's paper. its the government's paper now. just as law and order is on a slippery descending road, so is the credibility of this government's paper.

  7. Sabah Mufti's Fatwa: Buddhist Statues are HARAM (FORBIDDEN)

  8. Apparently, someone deserves it today. As reluctant as I am to drag in a religious figure, I'm a fair guy who'll give it to whoever he or she is, regardless of race, color and creed. This award goes to the state mufti, Datuk Haji Ahmad Alawi Haji Adnanof of non-Islamic Sabah in a non-Islamic Malaysia for issuing a Taliban-styled fatwa (religious edict) against the erection of religious statutes in Sabah state.

  9. That's the reason why when I read journalistic opinions like that in the star, I feel like puking my guts out. Especially when I read Joceline's "try to be neutral but can't really" articles.

  10. i was def rolling in laughter after chelsea's article. poor gal, prob 'forced' to write it using her once 'good' name...that's all it 'joker' article like that.....

  11. joceline is still fairly objective, she knows that she can't do an overkill

  12. When the former pariah CJ hiding his tail on his way out, we hanve another smarter homegrown pariah wolf coming in.... Poor good malaysian, dont you ever think of bringing suits of prominent pariah tycoon/politian/directors... into the local courts... Save ur time and monies for the African famine.....

  13. ktemoc,
    the reporter's name, the sweetie, is chelsea? Later on you referred to her as cheryl.
    Which is it?

  14. mstypo, you're the only who spotted my 'deliberate' mistake ;-) - aiyah I was so broken hearted that I became confused half way through my writing - sob, it's Chelsea lah - what a sweet name yet ... sob sob sob ...

  15. a poaching gamekeeper........