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Tun Ahmad Fairuz – take action against judges he had accused of taking bribes or resign as Chief Justice to protect the reputation and integrity of Malaysian judiciary
(Parliament, Saturday) : When I was speaking in Parliament on Wednesday during the debate on the Motion of Thanks on the Royal Address and touching on the judiciary as another institution which had suffered in the last 50 years of nationhood in terms of loss of public confidence in its independence, impartiality and integrity, DAP National Chairman and MP for Bukit Gelugor Karpal Singh interrupted me to raise a specific question.
Karpal asked whether I agree that as the Chief Justice of Malaysia, Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim had made it very clear that there are judges who are corrupt, it has become the duty and responsibility of the Chief Justice to lodge a police report to enable a full investigation to be conducted to ascertain as to who are the corrupt judges.
In my response, I expressed my full agreement that to protect the good name of the judiciary, Tun Ahmad Fairuz should either lodge a police against the corrupt judges who “accept bribes” which he had stated publicly or resign as Chief Justice.
There is actually another option open to the Chief Justice – which is to invoke Article 125(3) of the Federal Constitution to set up a judicial tribunal for the dismissal of the judges who accept bribes. This Article provides that the Chief Justice, after consulting the Prime Minister, is empowered to represent to the Yang di Pertuan Agong for the establishment of a tribunal for the removal of a judge for judicial misconduct.
Tun Ahmad Fairuz must take action against the judges he had accused of taking bribes, whether by lodging a police report or invoking Article 152(3) of the Federal Constitution, and if he not prepared to do either, he should resign as Chief Justice to protect the reputation and integrity of the Malaysian judiciary.
There can be nothing more serious against the reputation and integrity of judges than the charges which the Chief Justice had levelled in his speech during the swearing-in ceremony of eight new judicial commissioners on March 1 - that there are judges who accept bribes.
Tun Ahmad Fairuz had said:
In his speech, Ahmad Fairuz had castigated various forms of “inappropriate behaviour” and judicial misconduct, such as:
The question of judges who “accept bribes” being asked to “tear away from such bad characteristics” or leave the judiciary does not arise, as such judges have committed crimes of corruption must be exposed and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Ahmad Fairuz would be betraying his office to uphold the law as the Chief Justice if he fails to take appropriate action against the corrupt judges, or he had publicly made baseless and unsubstantiated charges of corruption against judges serving under him.
Only some six months earlier, the Chief Justice had dismissed suggestions that judges who lacked integrity and honesty had been appointed by the authorities.
Speaking at the Judges’ Conference in Putrajaya, attended by 83 judges of the Federal Court, Court of Appeal and High Courts nationwide on August 22, 2006, Ahmad Fairuz declared: “Don’t say that they are dishonest. Don’t say that they are without integrity. Give me proof and then we shall take action”.
Now, it is the Chief Justice himself who is saying publicly that there are judges who are not only guilty of “inappropriate behaviour” as putting themselves in the compromising position of socializing with lawyers, prosecutors and corporate figures while hearing their cases in court, but that there are judges who are guilty of the gross judicial misconduct and heinous crime of accepting bribes.
Where is the “action” he had promised last August?
The Chief Justice’s shock expose that there are judges who accept bribes, and his failure for over three weeks to take follow-up action to clean up the judiciary of corrupt judges, are the latest setbacks to the losing battle to restore national and international confidence in the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judges for close to two decades since the Salleh Abas judicial crisis in 1988.
Malaysia has probably the most imposing court complexes in the world, not only the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya (housing two Federal Courts and six Courts of Appeal), but very soon, another world’s biggest court complex cost RM300 million in Jalan Duta housing 30 High Courts, 21 Sessions Courts and 26 magistrates’ courts.
But what is the use of these monstrous edifices when sorely lacking is the essence and the moving spirit of justice?
During my continued speech on the Royal Address on Thursday, I had referred to the case of the whistleblower in the judiciary, Justice Datuk Syed Ahmad Idid Syed Abdullah, the High Court judge who authored the 33-page anonymous letter about corruption and abuse of power in the judiciary in 1996, implicating 12 judges.
Instead of full and thorough investigation into the serious allegations by a High Court judge, Syed Ahmad Idid was victimised and force to resign from the judiciary.
But Syed Ahmad Idid has been able to preserve and maintain national and international respect for his integrity, which is why his is not only appointed director of the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration in 2004, but also recently appointed as an arbitrator until 2010 to the Permanent Court of Arbitration of Slovenia.
I had also referred in my speech in Parliament to a police report which was lodged earlier in the week about corruption in the top judicial and government circles, implicating a former Chief Justice, a former Attorney-General, a former Inspector-General of Police, and judges (retired and two still in service) and asked whether there would be full, thorough and satisfactory investigations into the report.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman