The three ministers appointed
to study Haidar Report and all other ministers should be given a copy of
Rais Yatim’s “Freedom under Executive Power in Malaysia – A Study of
Executive Supremacy” to understand why the foot-dragging for judicial
reforms must end with a Royal Commission of Inquiry to restore independence
and integrity of judiciary
by Lim Kit Siang
Minister in the Prime
Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz announced yesterday that
three senior ministers have been appointed to study the three-man Haidar
Panel report on the Lingam Tape on the perversion of the course of justice
on fixing of judicial appointments and court judgments.
Nazri said that the three Ministers, i.e. Home Minister Datuk Seri Mohd
Radzi Sheikh Ahmad, Culture and Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Dr.
Rais Yatim and he himself, were given the task by the Cabinet due to their
legal background and because all three had been in charge of law affairs
in their ministerial portfolios and to make recommendations on the
appropriate action to be taken at the next Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
The Cabinet had also decided that each minister be given a copy of the
Two questions immediately come to mind.
Firstly, why wasn’t the Haidar Report made public immediately? Why must
Cabinet Ministers read the Haidar Report first, to find out whether it is
good or bad for the government, before deciding whether it should be made
We should follow the best international practices of countries which fully
practice accountability, transparency and integrity where such inquiry
reports, whether by Royal Commission or inquiry committees, are made
public at the same time they are submitted to the appointing authorities –
to show that the government has nothing to hide, regardless of the
Secondly, why should there be another three-man Ministerial Committee to
study the Report of the three-man Haidar Panel on the Lingam Tape? One
does not need to have any legal background or experience in Cabinet in
charge of law affairs to decide what is right and proper to be done on a
question of accountability, transparency and integrity, not only about the
Lingam Tape revelations about the perversion of the course of justice on
fixing of judicial appointments and judicial decisions but the urgent need
for judicial reforms.
The New Straits Times today reported that the three-man Haidar Panel into
“LingamGate” have all agreed that a Royal Commission of Inquiry should be
established to investigate although they have submitted separate reports.
This follows the “scoop” by Sin Chew Daily yesterday that the three panel
members have separately recommended a Royal Commission of Inquiry.
Why then is the Prime Minister and the Cabinet dragging their feet in
immediately announcing agreement in principle to establish a Royal
Commission of Inquiry, unless they have things to hide?
I suggest that the three ministers of the Nazri Committee to study the
Report of the three-man Haidar Panel as well as all Cabinet Ministers
should be given a copy of Rais Yatim’s 1995 book “Freedom under Executive
Power in Malaysia – A Study of Executive Supremacy” to understand why the
foot-dragging for judicial reforms must end with a Royal Commission of
Inquiry to restore independence and integrity of judiciary.
Let me quote three passages from Rais Yatim’s book:
"Since merdeka the judiciary had by and large enjoyed its share of
independence and none of the previous three Prime Ministers, who had
incidentally received their legal training in England, as much as nudged
the judiciary let alone ‘assaulted’ it in Parliament as did Dr. Mahathir."
(page 302 - 7.2)
"The period 1986-1989 could perhaps be summarized to be the finest hour of
the Malaysian Judiciary for it was during this short period that it handed
down those few judgments that gave freedom a boost. These judgments did
not go down well with the Prime Minister. His dissatisfaction with the
judiciary came into sharp focus when he was clearly stung by the various
decisions of the court." (p. 313 - 7.2)
"Since the dismissals of the three Supreme Court judges in 1988, the
government has not taken steps to restore confidence in the Malaysian
judiciary. Instead, key judicial posts have been filled by judges who
participated in the government's administrative actions against the
judges. Recent legislation has eliminated judicial review of important
national security legislation. The government has been openly critical of
the Malaysian Bar Council, which has sought to defend judicial
independence in Malaysia. This criticism, in conjunction with a recent
action for contempt of court against the Secretary of the Bar Council,
indicates a continued willingness to maintain pressure against the
judiciary and those who seek to defend it."
National and international confidence in the independence, integrity and
quality of the judiciary have undergone from one crisis to another since
Rais’ book, culminating in the latest LingamGate.
This should be the finest hour
of the Cabinet Ministers to prove that they are not “half-past six” and
are capable of doing the greatest service to the nation by establishing a
Royal Commission of Inquiry with full and untrammeled powers to delve into
the deep-seated causes for the decline and fall of the independence,
integrity and quality of the judiciary in the past two decades and to make
recommendations to re-establish a world-class judiciary as an important
element of Malaysia’s international competitiveness to face the challenges
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman