If we love justice, honour the rule of law; if fairness and truth means anything to us; then we must pay heed to the saying, “There is always time to make right what is wrong,” says P Ramakrishnan.
An independent judiciary is critical to the success of the nation. It is an independent judiciary that commands the respect and confidence of the people of a country and ensures the rule of law. Without an independent judiciary there will be no fairness, no justice, no truth, no accountability. It is for these reasons that we must insist on a judiciary that is not beholden to any individual or powers-that-be.
A democracy is but a name and a sham without an independent judiciary. All the trappings of a democracy and judiciary do not guarantee justice or democracy. We have what is claimed as the biggest courtroom buildings referred to as the Palace of Justice and an imposing parliamentary building termed as a first-class luxury.
But, as the explosive Lingam videoclip has revealed to the country, we do not have a ‘first class’ justice or democracy. It is only a perception, an illusion and nothing more – no matter what Datuk Nazri may claim!
No independent judiciary
When we have an independent judiciary, we can expect democracy to prevail – because the excesses of the executive can be reined in and it can be held accountable for its actions.
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Unfortunately, it is a widely held perception that an independent judiciary does not exist in Malaysia. It has become, in the eyes of the many, an institution that does not uphold the Federal Constitution and fails to deliver justice.
What has gone wrong? In one word: Everything! From the appointment of judges, to their promotions, from the perceived and stated instances of corruption in the judiciary, to the failure of delivering written judgments for years while the accused unfairly continue to rot in jail; from the openly revealed occasion when the head of the judiciary had instructed a judge to deliver a decision favouring the government to the time when an election judge disqualified a duly elected MP and questionably declared the throughly defeated candidate as duly elected in an attempt apparently to please the government as if he was returning a favour.
If you think that this was not enough dirt to spite the judiciary, we can recall much more to fault the discredited judiciary. Remember the holidays that the Chief Justice and the Attorney-General and their families spent with V K Lingam’s family in New Zealand and Italy respectively – which raised many questions and sparked a furore? This very Lingam was also accused of having written part of the judgment in a case he featured in. This same Lingam was chastised soundly by the Court of Appeal in the Ayer Molek case for his less than honourable role in this case.
Remember Justice Ajaib Singh who dragged his foot and delayed a decision that could have been taken within the hour in the Salleh Abas case thus interfering with the process of justice? And how he was elevated to the Supreme Court soon after that!
Remember Justice Augustine Paul – though junior in rank, he was transferred to KL to hear Anwar Ibrahim’s case. He shocked the entire nation with his conduct and judgment. He is a Federal Court judge now overriding many others who should have been considered for promotion,
Remember the public prosecutor who tried to plea bargain a case involving Nallakaruppan with Manjit Singh to implicate Anwar Ibrahim so that Nallakaruppan’s charge, which carried a death sentence, might be reduced? The top legal officer of the court was suggesting that a lie be concocted to do in someone who was seen as a danger man to the government. We are reminded of the saying, “Give a bad name to a man and hang him!”
Recently the nation witnessed one lawyer in private practice who was straightaway elevated to the Federal Court over and above other deserving judges with a lot of experience and expertise. This lawyer was close to UMNO and he was forced to resign as Chairman of the Umno disciplinary committee when it was discovered that he had secretly taken on another wife by marrying in Thailand. Is this the qualification that was required to be appointed as a Federal Court Judge, many wondered.
Taking all these promotions into consideration, let us ask why Sri Ram was not elevated to the Federal Court? Compared to all the other appointments to the Federal Court, what was lacking in Sri Ram that he was overlooked? He writes good, solid judgments and delivers on time. Was that held against him?
When first, someone said, “A good lawyer knows the law but a great lawyer knows the judge” the immediate response was, “That’s preposterous!” Now when that same thing is said, the response is, “How true!”
It is a generally held belief that the judiciary has become so corrupted and perverted that it must be redeemed and rescued from the morass of filth that it is bogged in. And the only saving grace for the judiciary is the appointment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry. No other measure will do and nothing else will save the judiciary.
If we love justice, honour the rule of law; if fairness and truth means anything to us; if we seriously and sincerely obey the commandments of God, then we must pay heed to the saying, “There is always time to make right what is wrong.”
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