Lingam Tape Report: It’s not an option but an obligation

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It is troubling to read the Prime Minister’s view on the Lingam Tape Report with regard to whether it would be made public or not. In responding to this question, he had said, “I want to see what is inside, what is being said and examine it in details before deciding.”

This means he has an option either to make the Report public or deny the people access to its contents. This option is not acceptable to civil society.

The contents of the Report concern a national issue of grave importance. It concerns the nation. The citizens are the stakeholders. As such, it cannot be left to one individual to decide whether this nation should have access to the information disclosed in the Report.

Justice itself is dependent on the integrity and independence of the judiciary. But this has been clearly violated, debased and desecrated by unscrupulous judges who betrayed their oath of office.  This grave situation demands that we spare no effort in restoring the integrity, independence and impartiality of the judiciary.

This is the only way to put back the shine on the judiciary and rescue its tattered and tarnished image so that the cause of justice can be served without fear or favour. There is a desperate need to bring back the lost credibility that has been sacrificed on the altar of political expedience.

This is why we need to know who compromised their judicial positions, who betrayed the Constitution, who miserably failed in their sworn duty to uphold justice. These recalcitrant judges must be exposed – not protected. This truth must not be buried – once again – by the refusal to disclose the contents of the Report.

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People with memory would recall that Justice Datuk Syed Ahmad  Idid in his patriotic duty tried to expose the rot in the judiciary in his 33-page position-pen letter that shockingly revealed the crooks in the judiciary, their corruption, their immoral behaviour and their lack of integrity.

That episode was buried by a sham investigation by someone who thundered that he would get to the bottom of the truth – “we will ferret them out, whoever they are, and bring them to justice”, so proudly promised the former Attorney General and Public Prosecutor.

The truth was never allowed to prevail because he himself had been implicated in the sordid affairs of the judiciary. They put the lid on the expose and forced the whistle-blower to resign in spite of the “highly seditious, defamatory and derisive allegations against certain judges”.  There were, according to the then AG, “112 allegations against 12 judges: 21 were allegations pertaining to the abuse of power, 39 of corruption and 52 of misconduct, immorality and personal attacks”. And yet the whole case was hushed up!

We must never allow a similar fate to be suffered by the Lingam Tape Report. That is why it is crucial that we must not leave it to one man to decide whether the Report should be made public. The contents do not concern this one man. Therefore it is not his privilege or prerogative to decide whether to make the Report public.

In the course of his 22 years of despotic rule, Dr Mahathir ruined the sacred institution of the judiciary. And Abdullah has failed to remedy the situation during the four and a half years he has been in power. With the unprecedented, fantastic mandate that was given by trusting voters, he was well placed to clean up the judiciary – but unfortunately that opportunity was squandered away.

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Now, this Lingam Tape Report provides us with another opportunity to bring redress to the judiciary. It is all the more important that the Prime Minister should not be the sole person to decide on this matter. He has no option in this matter.

It is an obligation for the PM to make the Report public. The PM cannot run away from this responsibility!

P Ramakrishnan
President
14 May 2008

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