The assault on the Judiciary in 1988 requires a complete reassessment with a view to restoring the integrity of the judges who were wronged.Even a first year law student would detect a complete lack of natural justice in Tun Salleh’s removal, says Karpal Singh.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz says the sacking of Tun Salleh Abas as Lord President and two Supreme Court judges in 1988 will not be reviewed, adding, “And that’s final”. In my view, it is the Cabinet which should decide, it is not for Nazri Aziz to take upon himself to decide the question which is of national importance and which has serious implications. The sacking of Tun Salleh Abas and two Supreme Court judges in 1988 brought about national and international outrage. The Judiciary has yet to recover from the trauma caused by the actions of the then Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who caused Tun Salleh Abas and the five Supreme Court judges to face a tribunal. What happened then was unprecedented in the Commonwealth, and perhaps in the world. Where there is a wrong there must be a remedy — ubi jus ibi remedium.
The assault on the Judiciary in 1988 requires a complete reassessment with a view to restoring the integrity of the judges who were wronged. Prima facie, the appointment of Tun Abdul Hamid, who was second in command to Tun Salleh Abas at that time, to head the tribunal which found Tun Salleh Abas guilty is reason enough to nullify the decision of the tribunal, particularly so when upon the removal of Tun Salleh Abas, Tun Abdul Hamid was appointed Lord President. Even a first year law student would detect complete lack of natural justice in the events leading to the removal of Tun Salleh Abas. Nazri Aziz is completely off the mark when he says, “He (Tun Salleh Abas) was tried by his peers. A panel of international judges were called. If we open this case, what other cases are other people going to ask us to reopen?,” Nazri Aziz goes on to say “We cannot keep on questioning past issues, otherwise there cannot be any finality. There is no way we will reopen this matter.” Perhaps, Nazri Aziz should be reminded that even the Federal Court, which is the apex court in the country, has power to reopen and review its own decisions.
I call upon the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, to personally intervene in this matter. He cannot afford to remain silent. It was Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who initiated the setting up of the tribunals which found Tun Salleh Abas and two of the five Supreme Court judges guilty. The judges who were wronged deserve to have their names cleared. Public interest demands that this be so. A Royal Commission of Inquiry should be set up to look into propriety of the sacking of Tun Salleh Abas and the two Supreme Court judges who were found guilty and removed from office.
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