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Chief Justice has forfeited the trust of the people

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The Chief Justice has forfeited the trust of the people and the confidence of the Malaysian Bar. The only thing for him to do when he no longer commands the trust of the people or the confidence of the Malaysian Bar is to go quietly. That is the best thing to do – the only thing he can do.

The Chief Justice is well aware that he is embroiled in a controversy that has far-reaching consequences for the entire country. That controversy involves the dignity and the independence of the judiciary which have been distressingly compromised.

Already a petition has been submitted to His Majesty, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, this morning bearing the signatures of 5,036 petitioners highlighting the various concerns of the public and raising issues that has to be urgently redressed to rescue the judiciary from the clutches of some unscrupulous persons garbed in judicial robes. Implicit in this action is the urgent appeal not to extend the Chief Justice’s tenure of service for whatever period, even as a face-saving grace.

The Bar Council has indicated that, if necessary, it will call for an EGM on 22 November 2007 to discuss this and other concerns plaguing the judiciary in an attempt to right a wrong that can no longer be tolerated or ignored. In all probability the Bar Council will initiate a move to boycott the Chief Justice if his term is extended.

Does he want to go through this ignominy – and for what purpose? The disgrace that he will suffer by having his tenure extended will go down in the annals of the judiciary as a shameful period in our history. He will not be forgotten or forgiven for the disrepute that he has brought upon the judiciary. And if he insists in dragging the judiciary through the mud by wanting to carry on in office after his retirement then his reasons for wanting to extend his tenure cannot be accepted as being honourable.

He has inflicted enough damage on the judiciary and has trivialized justice itself with some of his questionable judgments and actions that promoted judges over the more deserving ones bringing further disrepute to the judiciary.

By now he should know that nothing is going to save him – neither Nazri nor the 3-man panel. The more Nazri opens his mouth in defence of the Chief Justice, the more ridiculous he seems to be – even sounding foolish. The 3-man panel established to assuage the public anger and outrage over the scandalous Lingam tape controversy has portrayed itself as an impotent body without any will or clout to serve the public interest.

The three-man panel, it would seem, was set up to deceive the people that something was being done to address the rot in the judiciary that was implicitly revealed in the Lingam tape. It is now very apparent that it was meant to fool the public and buy time hoping that the issue would disappear. But this is one issue that will persist in being solved and it will be with us for a long time to come – until a Royal Commission of Inquiry is set up to purge the judiciary.

P Ramakrishnan.
26 October 2007
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