The badly battered and tattered judiciary is on trial today.
The Appeal Court which convicted Anwar Ibrahim on 7 March 2014 had done irreparable damage to the image and integrity of the judiciary. What took place during the proceedings had brought the judiciary into disrepute.
The facts of the matter were baffling and astonishing.
The date fixed for the proceedings and mutually agreed upon was 12-13 April 2014. Inexplicably and arbitrarily the date was brought forward to 6-7 March 2014 even though Anwar’s lawyers were not free on those dates. The court insisted on proceeding with the case.
On the day the case was concluded, Karpal Singh pleaded for more time for mitigation until the following week, beginning 10 March “to address the court on mitigation and sentencing, and to obtain a medical report concerning the Respondent/Defendant’s medical condition.” That legitimate and fair request was denied.
Each day’s proceedings dragged on to between 6.00pm and 7.00pm in an attempt to conclude the case as soon as possible. It may not be highly extraordinary but rarely do court proceedings extend beyond 5.00pm. The rush to deliver judgment was bewildering!
According to Christopher Leong, president of the Malaysian Bar:
In this instance, the Court of Appeal had, at the conclusion of submissions by the parties on 7 March 2014, taken approximately 90 minutes to consider the matter, and then rendered a unanimous decision in reversing the acquittal by the High Court and finding the Respondent/Defendant guilty, at approximately 5.00pm the same day.
The Court of Appeal pronounced a sentence of five years’ imprisonment, and the proceedings concluded at approximately 7.00pm.
These matters raise many questions, cause much speculation, and lend to the perception that justice may have been hijacked.
What transpired on this occasion and the timing of it raised a lot of suspicions as well. The Kajang by-election was round the corner. Anwar was the candidate for the by-election, which was to be held on 23 March. Nomination day was fixed for 11 March 2014.
On 7 March, four days before nomination day, Anwar was convicted, rendering him unable to contest in the by-election.
Was the judiciary colluding with politicians to stop Anwar from contesting? It is anybody’s guess!
But the judiciary cannot extricate itself from the widely held public perception that it had perhaps colluded with Umno to thwart Anwar’s ambition to become the Menteri Besar of Selangor.
What would be the outcome of the present Federal Court decision? This is the troubling question in the minds of caring Malaysians.
Aliran executive committee member
28 October 2014