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Haidar should decline or withdraw as Chairman of the three-man panel on the authenticity of the Lingam Tape in view of his controversial role in the 1988 Judicial crisis to allow for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to be formed to conduct full and comprehensive inquiries into the erosion and ravages of the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary since 1988
(Parliament, Wednesday) : Former Chief Judge of Malaya, Tan Sri Haidar Mohd Noor, should decline or withdraw as Chairman of the three-man panel on the authenticity of the Lingam Tape in view of his controversial role in the 1988 Judicial Crisis to allow for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to be formed to conduct full and comprehensive inquiries into the erosion and ravages of the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary since 1988.
I also call on the other two members earmarked for the Lingam Tape panel, former Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mahadev Shanker and Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye to similarly decline or withdraw from the panel to send a clear and unmistakable message on behalf of all Malaysians and future generations – that the time has come not only for an untrammeled inquiry into the Lingam Tape with all its far-reaching and horrendous implications about perversion of the course of justice but the opportunity must not be missed to right the historic and generational wrongs in the past 19 years which saw Malaysia stumbling from one judicial crisis to another.
The question which Malaysiakini editor-in-chief, Steven Gan, asked in his editorial yesterday, “Will we miss the boat again”, must be asked by all Malaysians, including Shanker and Lam Thye.
Steven cannot be more right when he wrote:
“Almost a generation has suffered because
of our ‘tidak apa’ attitude to the judicial crisis. Here’s another chance
for us to make amends.”
The establishment of an “Independent Panel” into the authenticity of the Lingam Tape instead of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the rot in the system of justice in the past two decades and which had been highlighted by the Lingam Tape is the height of irresponsibility in trying to reduce the shocking scandal into a joke and a farce.
In the first place, why should there be an independent panel to establish the authenticity of the Lingam Tape when there had been no full denial for a week by the two personalities involved, senior lawyer V.K. Lingam or the Chief Justice, Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim as the so-called “denial” by Ahmad Fairuz through the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz was clearly unsatisfactory and unacceptable.
In the second place, why should there be continued refusal to have a Royal Commission to conduct a wide-ranging inquiry into the rot in the system of justice because of the usurpation of the powers of the judiciary by the executive and the erosion of the fundamental principles of the independence, impartiality and integrality of the judiciary, a continuing national and international scandal for 19 years which had been re-opened by the Lingam Tape?
Are Malaysians to be blamed if they sense that there is a greater eagerness to find a technical excuse to “cover up” the Lingam Tape scandal than to grapple frontally with the serious allegations of the perversion of the course of justice on the fixing of judicial appointments and the fixing of judgments in the past 19 years?
I call on Shanker and Lam Thye to decline or withdraw from the three-man “Independent Panel” because no one should lend themselves to any stratagem which would, in Steven’s words, cause Malaysia to “miss the boat” to have probably the last opportunity to exorcise the ravages against an independent, impartial and incorruptible judiciary and lay the basis for the restoration of the Malaysian judiciary to its former high international repute and esteem.
Haidar should know that in these circumstances, considering his controversial role in the “mother” of the string of judicial crisis which afflicted the country in the past 19 years, it is most inappropriate for him to head any investigation to restore public confidence in the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary.
Haidar, who was then the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, had played a crucial role in the sacking of Tun Salleh Abas as Lord President and Datuk George Seah and the late Tan Sri Wan Suleiman as Supreme Court judges.
Haidar’s role in the sacking of Salleh Abas, particularly with regard the third charge leveled against Salleh at the Judicial Tribunal, can be read from Salleh Abas’ accounts of the “mother” of all judicial crises in Malaysia, particularly from “May Day for Justice” by Tun Salleh Abas with K. Das.
In his “Postmortem of the 1988 judicial crisis” in Aliran Monthly 2005, Datuk George Seah made the following reference to Haidar:
Lastly, there was the interview given by the retiring Chief Judge of the High Court in Malaysia, Tan Sri Justice Haidar Mohd Noor, which was published in the New Straits Times (7 November 2004). The retiring Chief Judge was reported to have said:
Haidar should clarify his role in the 1988 “Mother of all judicial crisis” in Malaysia and the arbitrary and unconstitutional sacking of Tun Salleh Abas as Lord President Datuk George Seah and the late Tan Sri Wan Suleiman as Supreme Court judges before he takes up any role connected with restoring national and international confidence in the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman