Remove all doubts; convene 11-member Federal Court panel

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The legitimately elected but illegally ousted Perak Menteri Besar, Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin, has applied for a full quorum of 11 Federal Court judges to hear his appeal tomorrow.

A majority of Malaysians would support this application not only in the interest of justice but also because they want to see the return of confidence in the judiciary. They want the judiciary to be rescued from the doldrums and regain its former glory as a beacon of justice for all Malaysians.

The judiciary is in a shambles. Some judges have contributed to that. The Executive is not without blame either. It had appointed and elevated judges who did not measure up to their oath of office to deliver justice without fear or favour. The Lingam tape scandal has completely tarnished the judiciary –  according to some, beyond repair.

The Perak crisis further damaged its tarnished reputation, as can be seen in the following instances.

On May 11 High Court judge, Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim, in a well reasoned  decision declared Nizar as the rightful Perak Menteri Besar.

But shockingly, in less than 24 hours, the Court of Appeal granted a stay by Justice Ramli Ali, who had just been elevated in April – the previous month.

Then, in what must be considered as super-speed,  11 days later, on 22 May, the appellate court over-turned the sound High Court decision for no apparent reason and  incredibly ruled Zambry as the legitimate MB.

In this instance, Justice Md Raus Sharif led a three-member Court of Appeal. Justice Md Raus Sharif was subsequently elevated to the Federal Court – which raised many eye-brows.

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The way Nizar’s case proceeded has created doubts that are disturbing and damaging to the judiciary.

Malaysians are still wondering why a newly elevated justice to the Court of Appeal should have heard ZAmbry’s stay application. No compelling reasons or justifications were disclosed for this bewildering decision. The stay order was simply granted – just like that.

This was followed by the over-turning of the High Court decision acknowledging Nizar as the legitimate MB by the three-member Court of Appeal panel headed by Justice Md Raus Sharif.

The court had the right to make that decision even though a written judgment was not made available. But surprisingly, Justice Md Raus Sharif was soon afterwards elevated to the Federal Court and tongues began to wag insinuating all kinds of things running down the judiciary.

Since Nizar’s case has cast the judiciary in such a poor light, prompting the public to perceive that there was biasness in these cases, it is all the more important why a 11-member Federal Court should hear this case.

There is also the constitutional issue in the Perak crisis that had not been properly addressed and seriously considered thus far. The supreme law deserves to be treated with due respect and given the utmost attention by the apex court and its members.

The issues at stake are crying out for a judicial remedy involving the constitution, the rule of law, the people’s mandate, democracy and justice itself.

The Chief Justice will be doing the judiciary a great duty in the interest of justice and public expection if he were to appoint a full bench to hear this very important case tomorrow. If he fails to do this, then we can with confidence conclude there is no hope for the judiciary.

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In such an eventuality, Malaysians must decide once and for all at the 13th General Elections whether they want this rotten system to continue or vote for a complete change.

P Ramakrishnan
President
4 November 2009

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