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Any sensible Malaysian must be puzzled and befuddled with Nazri’s response to those who asked why the Chief Justice had to respond to the Lingam videotape uproar through the minister. They must have been horrified to hear Nazri blatantly claiming, “I'm his (the Chief Justice's) minister.”

By stating “I’m his minister”, is Nazri trying to say that the the CJ must go through him for whatever clarification he has to make and that the CJ is subordinate to the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department?

 If that is your position, Nazri, where then is the independence of the judiciary? What is meant by the separation of powers in our system of governance? Does the Judiciary come under the purview of the Executive? Is that what he meant when he stated, “I’m his minister.”

Instead of fiercely protecting the independence of the judiciary, the CJ seems to be subjecting himself and, by implication, the entire judiciary to the supervision of the Executive. This is what is troubling Malaysians.

It is difficult to understand the CJ’s conduct. Is he overwhelmed by the sudden turn of events by the release of the Lingam tapes that he is completely bowled over and unable to think rationally?

That may be the case. In the first instance, he did not phone Nazri but instructed his special assistant Ahmad Fairuz to dash off a two-paragraph fax to inform Malaysiakini that “he has no comment”. He did not convey this through “his minister” but chose to respond directly through his special assistant.

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When he had gone through the trouble of instructing his special assistant to come out with his “no comment” statement, surely he could have easily stated that he was not the person on the other end of the phone and cleared the air. Why didn’t he do that? Surely, he owes the nation an explanation!

As for Nazri, his criticism of the Bar for planning to march to the PM’s office to submit a memorandum is without merit and logic. His running down of the Bar by likening its conduct to that of the opposition is preposterous.

Going by his own logic, can we then equate the Barisan Nasional to Pas when two BN Prime Ministers and a deputy premier proclaimed Malaysia as an Islamic country? Can we say that the BN is doing what Pas wants to create?

As for his claim, “If they want to stoop so low and go there like (an) opposition demonstration, certainly they will lose my respect because I have been having a good relationship with the Bar.” We can safely assume that the Bar is not bothered about losing his respect especially when he cannot see clearly what is at stake in this issue.

His suggestion that “lawyers should send a memorandum to him or the Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as this would be a proper manner of response” is indeed laughable.

Let us ask Nazri: If the lawyers and judges of Pakistan had followed this advice where would their judiciary be today. Would their sacked Lord President have been reinstated had they not marched and demonstrated in defence of justice?

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P Ramakrishnan


25 September 2007

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