The Truth Revealed

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Eminent panel finds sacking of Salleh Abas and two others “unjustied” and “unconstitutional”

By Jacqueline Ann Surin

From left: Ambiga, Sulaiman Abdullah, Salleh Abas, Mah Weng Kwai and Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam at the launch of the report by the Panel of Eminent Persons to Review the Judicial Crisis in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, 29 Aug 2008: A panel comprising six eminent judges and lawyers from Malaysia, Australia, India and Pakistan have found the 1988 sacking of former Lord President Tun Salleh Abas as “incomprehensible” and “unconstitutional”.

In addition, the Panel of Eminent Persons to Review the Judicial Crisis in Malaysia, also found the dismissal of judges, the late Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawan Teh, and Datuk George Seah, as “unjustified”, “inappropriate” and “unconstitutional”.

The panel, which was commissioned by a joint committee comprising the Malaysian Bar, Lawasia, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute and Transparency International-Malaysia, also called for immediate steps to “redeem the people’s faith in the credibility of the judiciary and the rule of law” to be taken.

Relying only on the material that was made available to the two tribunals set up under the former administration of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the panel said it was “incomprehensible how a judicial tribunal could accept” the charges against Salleh Abas as proved.

The panel said that having examined the proceedings of the First Tribunal, set up to try Salleh Abas, which found him guilty of five charges including “misbehaviour”, it was of the view that the former Lord President was “totally innocent and none of the charges against him had any merit”.

The panel also said Salleh Abas was, in fact, performing his “constitutional duty to uphold and protect the doctrine of separation of powers and the rule of law in the larger interest of the country.”

“The conclusion is inevitable, that the removal of Lord President Tun Salleh was non est. [editor’s note: means that which could not have been],” the panel found. Its findings were launched today by Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan.

The panel comprised former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India JS Verma, former Pakistan supreme court judge Fakhruddin G Ebrahim, advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan Dr Asma Jahangir, advocates and solicitors of the High Court of Malaya Tan Sri Dr Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman and Datuk WSW Davidson, and Dr Gordon Hughes, former president of Lawasia and partner at Blake Dawson, Lawyers, Melbourne.

The panel, which worked from September last year until delivering its report on 26 July this year to the joint committee, also said the findings of the second tribunal which suspended and then dismissed Wan Suleiman and Seah were “unjustified and inappropriate”.

“Glaring inconsistencies between enunciation of the legal principles and their application to the facts by the Second Tribunal is indeed incomprehensible. The consequent action of (the judges’) removal under Article 125 (of the Constitution) is unconstitutional and therefore non est.”

Salleh Abas was suspended in May 1988 after several run-ins with the Mahathir administration, by a tribunal that was headed by the acting Lord President Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Omar who was also junior in rank.

Wan Suleiman and Seah were removed from office in September 1988 by a second tribunal. They and three other judges were part of a special Supreme Court sitting that unanimously granted Salleh Abas’ application to restrain the First Tribunal until his objection to its composition was resolved by the High Court.

The panel was set up after repeated calls for the government to undertake a thorough and impartial examination of the 1988 judicial crisis fell on deaf ears.

Speed up judicial reform

Ambiga said the Malaysian Bar has always been steadfast in its support of the judges – including the three others who were suspended and then reinstated, namely the late Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdoolcader, Tan Sri Wan Hamzah and Tan Sri Azmi Kamaruddin – who suffered a “gross injustice”.

Calling the report “historic” in front of lawyers, former judges and the family members of the affected judges, Ambiga said: “We seek no punishment. We seek a correction of the record that now stands against these innocent judges.”

She said even though Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had on 17 April 2008 acknowledged the wrongdoing to the judges by paying them or their families ex-gratia payments, the record against them remained unchanged.

“The findings of the panel completely absolve the judges of any wrongdoing.”

At a press conference later, Ambiga said the report would be submitted to the government, Bar associations worldwide and international organisations.
“We hope the government will accept the panel’s findings in full,” she said, and called on the government to speed up the process of setting up the judicial appointment commission as well as stepping up the judicial reform process.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Blocking Blogs

by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad
August 29, 2008 12:44 PM

1. When a Government makes a promise to the country and then reneges on its promise, then not only will the Government lose credibility but also any respect that the public may have for it.

2. I do not often agree with and Raja Petra Kamaruddin. He had been sometimes quite irresponsible. But court action had already been taken against him. He is not above the law and if he is found guilty there are already adequate punishment that can be passed against.

3. But to break a promise and to openly show that you can meddle with the security of the internet is to expose a degree of oppressive arrogance worthy of a totalitarian state.

4. I had once before written to a Government Minister that Malaysia has become a police state because the Government instructed the police to call up people who invited me to give talks and coerce them into withdrawing their invitation. The police is not supposed to do that. When the Government makes use of the police for extralegal work then the Government is guilty of abuse of power.

5. The Minister simply replied that I had retired and it was better for me to literally shut up.

6. Now this blockage of the blog is another evidence that this has become an authoritarian state, elections notwithstanding.

7. Where are we heading? The censorship of news in the mainstream media is known to the public. Certainly I know of the blackout on me and the spins on any news about me. Now this.

8. I know that things have been engineered to ensure Khairy Jamaluddin will win as UMNO Youth leader and Dato Seri Abdullah Badawi as President. Democracy in UMNO is dead. And when democracy dies in UMNO, the party itself will die.

9. I would like to say this to the Prime Minister and his minions. You may have the power now. But as in five States, you may lose power some day. And this will certainly happen because of your obsession to block all contrary opinion from being heard. It will blind you to the reality of the situation so that you will continue to do wrong things and the people will reject you totally.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ku Li: Permatang Pauh defeat shows UMNO must change

MALAYSIA TODAY: Wednesday, 27 August 2008 13:53
Posted by kasee

Statement on the Result of the Permatang Pauh By-Election

26 August 26, 2008
YBM Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah
Member of Parliament, Gua Musang
31 Jalan Langgak Golf
55000 Kuala Lumpur

Today, five months after we met with the biggest General Election loss in our history, UMNO has suffered a landslide loss at Permatang Pauh. This despite the mobilization of the entire leadership and resources of a party that has held the machinery of government without pause for fifty years. This despite a campaign that embarrassed and divided the nation with its ugliness. It is time to face the music: it is we who have been buried:

- Our leadership is rejected by the rakyat and, moreover, is rejected by our own members. BN’s vote count was less than the number of UMNO members in the constituency.

- Within and among our component parties we ran a poorly coordinated and listless campaign against a motivated Opposition.

- What scraps of credibility the Prime Minister and his Deputy had left after March 8 are gone.

Today’s report card, delivered to a Prime Minister who is accountable also as Liaison Chief of UMNO Penang and Chairman of BN, is impossible to hide: he does not have the minimal credibility needed to run the country day by day, let alone to take it in the new directions we need to go in a complex world. He may not have the credibility needed to keep the country together. This dangerous situation cannot continue, and it will not.

I appeal to the members of UMNO and of BN’s component parties to stand by UMNO in our hour of crisis, and to take a sober historical perspective. The people of Malaysia and along with them, Umno’s ordinary members, have found their democratic voice. They demand leadership that can be trusted to unite our people, to restore confidence in our institutions, and forge a clear national direction. Today is proof that this wave cannot be held back. UMNO must change. We must begin by renewing our Party leadership. I am confident that by December, we shall.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah

Rocky's Bru2

Monday, August 25, 2008

Imam's Bombshell to Help PKR's Last-minute Campaign

By Wan Hamidi Hamid

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 25: It's an eleventh-hour advantage for Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

The imam who witnessed Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan's swearing on the Quran to accuse Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim of sodomising him has cast doubts on the oath.

With less than a day to campaign in the Permatang Pauh by-election, observers noted that the Barisan Nasional"s strongest point of attack against the former deputy prime minister has been blunted.

[Ramlang witnessed Saiful taking his oath. Picture by Choo Choy May]

This means the public confession by Ramlang Porigi, the imam of the Kuala Lumpur mosque, made in Permatang Pauh late last night has freed Anwar from having to take the same Quranic vow to prove his innocence.

Ramlang witnessed Saiful taking his oath on the eve of the Permatang Pauh by-election. Although Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has said it was not politically motivated, he has been demanding that Anwar take the same oath to deny any wrongdoing.

The PKR de facto leader has refused, and for that, he has been vilified by BN leaders as well as the mainstream media.

To put further pressure on Anwar, Najib, who is leading the BN campaign in the by-election, swore in a Permatang Pauh mosque that he had nothing to do with the murdered Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu.

On Anwar's part, he and his campaigners have been insinuating that the Umno deputy president had somehow been involved in the murder linked to an alleged multibillion ringgit submarine deal.

But in front of thousands in Penanti last night, the imam, who said he did not arrange the ceremony on Aug 15, claimed he was directed by -a higher authority- to conduct the oath-taking ritual.

He added that the oath was not completely Islamic as both parties the accused and the accuser must attend. It was an ex-parte admission by Saiful.

When met by the press, Ramlang insisted that as a civil servant he is one of the nine official imams paid by the government to run the KL mosque he must obey the directives from his superiors.

Why did he have to be on a PKR ceramah platform to explain himself? Ramlang said he did not want to be blamed for conspiring with Umno, and the fact that no one in authority defended him.

He has been exposed as an Umno member registered as a voter in Penanti under the Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency, which he later confirmed. He even asked the voters of Permatang Pauh to stop blaming him for having to do what was directed by the top people, and for that he received thunderous applause and chants of 'Allahu Akbar' (God is Great).

PKR vice-president Azmin Ali, who leads the party"s campaign in the by-election, has denied rewarding Ramlang who came forward willingly.

He told the press that it was proven that the second sodomy allegation is yet another Umno political conspiracy against his boss.

With less than 24 hours to go before polling, PKR and its allies especially Pas are expected to bombard the Malay-majority areas with this latest bombshell.

Many Malay voters are in doubt after Saiful's oath despite repeated assurance from Pas religious scholars that it was a wrong way to take an oath.

Ramlang's insinuation that Saiful was not all worried when taking his oath is expected to seen by many Malay voters as a signal that it was a false admission that"s what PKR campaigners are going to exploit today.

Anwar has refused to swear on the Quran despite calls by BN leaders, saying that many religious scholars advised him not to resort to it.

He has also referred the case to the Kuala Lumpur Islamic Religious Department, accusing Saiful of false accusation even as his Sodomy II charge is to be heard on Sept 10.

Anwar's campaigners are striving to ensure their leader surpasses his wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail's majority of 13,000-plus votes in the March 8 general election.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Leader of all Malaysians? Yeah. Right!

Malaysian Insider - Commentary

AUG 10 - The leader of all Malaysians. Once it captured the spirit of optimism that accompanied Abdullah Ahmad Badawi into office as the country's fifth prime minister.

Today, it is a reminder of what should have been; what could have been; another unfilled promise by a politician who promised to blur the racial and religious lines but ended up delivering an even more polarized nation five years on. The leader of all Malaysians.

Once it offered the umbrella of comfort for non-Muslims, planting hope among the 45 per cent of the country's population that the difficult issues of conversion, places of worship and freedom of religion would be tackled.Today, these five words have been buried by a community feeling increasingly despondent about their place here and the ability of important institutions to protect the rights of all Malaysians.

The numbers tell the story. A comprehensive survey on political developments since Election 2008 show that only 18 per cent of the 3,000 people polled identified Abdullah as the leader of all Malaysians, with only 7.3 per cent Chinese believing that he had done enough to deserve the moniker. Generally, more Indians and Chinese feel that he protects the interests of Malays more than he looks after the other races.

Even the anecdotal evidence suggests that the despair is coursing through the veins of many non-Muslims. Datuk A. Vaithalingam has always been a straight-talker. He never fudged or hedged when he was a top official in the golden era of the Malaysian sports scene, the days when the country's football team was a source of national pride and Isthiaq Mubarak was clearing hurdles at the Olympics.

But he outdid himself last Wednesday. Speaking as the president of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism, he gave a candid appraisal of the non-Muslim sentiment in the country to Abdullah.

"I must report to you that many non-Muslims feel marginalised in today's Malaysia. There is growing discomfort with the rapid Islamisation of our society. Universal values of ethical conduct and good governance, values which are shared by all religions, are appropriated by some to be only "Islamic", '' he said at the 25th anniversary of the council.

He cautioned the Prime Minister - the guest-of-honour - that unless concrete steps were taken to assure 45 per cent of Malaysia's population of fair treatment, the outflow of talent from the country would continue unabated.

Abdullah thanked him for his honesty and made the usual sounds on the need to be fair to all races. But even the PM knows that his government has not come close to delivering on any promises to non-Muslims since he came to power in October 2003.

Questions of body snatching or the status of burial rights for non-Muslims whose conversion to Islam was unknown to the dead person's family remain unresolved.

Abdullah promised to put in place a mechanism after the nastiness surrounding the burial of Everest hero Moorthy in 2006.

Little has changed since then. Similarly, there has been some disquiet over the plight of mothers whose husbands convert to Islam and then, avoid their commitments under the civil law to their former family. Non Muslims are unhappy that the courts are allowing one parent to convert children to Islam even if the other parent does not consent.

Vaithilingam also noted: "In schools, our children are not permitted to and do not get education in their own religion. Moral lessons are reportedly vetted by the Islamic authorities.''

His litany of complaints on Wednesday was long.

This is not the first time that the council has voiced their displeasure at the state of neglect over the interests of non-Muslims. Deep down, they know that Abdullah is not prepared to champion these issues, not when his own position in the country is precarious.

But they cannot keep the lid on the percolating discontent among the non-Muslims. That is why many of the religious groups backed the move by the Bar Council to proceed with its controversial public forum on conversion to Islam on Saturday.

The forum was eventually stopped by the organizers on the advice of police and threats by Muslim non-governmental groups.

Truth to be told, little good would have emerged from a forum not represented by major Muslim players such as Parti Islam SeMalaysia, Umno and Jakim. But in the absence of any meaningful moves by the government or political parties to resolve issues related to conversion, non-Muslims are prone to support any group willing to discussing these matters.

Abdullah and other Umno leaders have urged the Bar Council and other bodies to discuss sensitive matters behind closed doors but the Prime Minister will know from recent experience that this approach does not guarantee any progress. For example, he knows that many of his Umno colleagues in Cabinet are either against or ambivalent about promoting dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims. That is why Datuk Shafie Apdal's proposal to have more dialogue on national unity was shot down vigorously by an Umno minister during a recent Cabinet meeting.

A cabinet minister, who declined to be identified, told the Malaysian Insider: "Shafie did not get much support.

Pak Lah did not say much and neither did Najib. It could because this is the Umno election season and nobody wants to do anything which will upset party members. But it could also be in-built mechanism against dealing with any difficult issue, whether judicial reform or other reforms.''

There is little doubt that the party grassroots is ambivalent about reform - and this is a charitable interpretation.

During recent branch meetings, Umno members were focused on Malay unity - specifically the need to stay as one and fight off demands from the increasingly vocal non-Malay population.

There was little discussion on the need to shed the party's perceived arrogance and refill the depleting bank of non-Malay support.

Against this backdrop and with the upcoming party elections in December, no national leader is going to champion the cause of non-Muslims and risk alienating the Muslim constituency.

Certainly not the man who once said that he was the leader of all Malaysians. That claim rings hollow among many non-Muslims today.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ezam Mohd Nor as many knew him

The Chameleon
By Khalid Jaafar

The Malaysian Insider, AUG 2 — "If you ask me what kind of image I want", he once told me at my office in Jalan Telawi, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, "I want an image of a liberal."

He does not want to be a true liberal as the notions of spontaneous order, the virtue of the market and limited government are too strange for him. He just wanted a public perception that he wasn't an Islamic fundamentalist or a Malay ultra.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was still languishing in prison when I had this conversation with Ezam Mohd Nor and our party was dogged with an identity problem. I had yet to know then that he was already a mole, a Reformasi Lai Teck.

But today, as he turns away with vengeance against his former mentor, hurling vituperative against Anwar's cosmopolitanism and inclusive social and political philosophy, Ezam has re-embraced Umno's most decadent form of racial ideology. His return to his old party will only help plunge Umno into a deeper ideological crisis, alienating its power-sharing partners, and his strident Malay rhetoric will drive away idealistic youths in search for an integrated Malaysia in disgust.

He must be suffering from a lapse of memory that we are now living in the 21st century. There are the unstoppable and irreversible forces of globalisation affecting everybody and Umno’s exclusivist philosophy of Ketuanan Melayu is grossly out of key with time.

There is market still for Ezam's venom but a rapidly shrinking market. If Umno is really for the Malays there is still a political base to be consolidated. But the implementation of the NEP has been so corrupt in the last two decades only the naive would swallow government propaganda without being squeamish.

Many of us who know the internal problem he created within the party heaved a sigh of relief when he submitted his Umno form and it was a joke among us that his application was accepted but as a second-class member.

Still, I am often asked: "Why? What really happened?" Many find it difficult to comprehend why those who have found themselves estranged with the party for various reasons returned to the fold after Anwar was released but Ezam was at odds with everyone and finally left us.

The popular explanation was that it was the bitter personal rivalry between the two former secretaries for their boss's attention. As a person who has worked as Anwar’s press secretary for 10 years I found the explanation rather silly.

"The party has no discipline," he blurted out on the only occasion we had a heated argument. He wanted the party to take stern measures against his rivals who deliberately skipped party meetings. But in the years when I was a member of the supreme council he was known for his sparse attendance, and while present he was in the habit of being the last to come and the first to leave.

In the media he made innuendos on a particular person who was rich and comfortable while other Reformasi activists were slogging to make ends meet. But very few know that he received salaries from at least three companies, pocketing a salary equivalent to a CEO of a listed company. He was always being chauffeur-driven in fancy cars, and moved around with unproductive auxiliaries, reminiscent of the habits of Umno politicians.

His attacks have always been personal, spewing venom at Azmin Ali, and me on much lesser scale. Now he has upped the ante by mounting personal attacks against Anwar himself. A corporate person whose company provided Ezam with a fancy car told me recently: "All the time he tried to poison my mind on Anwar's character. He claimed to know Anwar inside out."

He created the impression that as political secretary he has opened Anwar's closet and found piles of stinking skeletons in there. The next prime minister has met his nemesis. I was more amused than alarmed at his threat.

Of the three of us — Azmin, Ezam and I — Ezam knows Anwar the least simply because he joined the office of the deputy prime minister — regrettably on my strongest recommendation — barely two years of the DPM's tragic sacking. I served as Anwar's press secretary for 10 years, and Azmin preceded me by a few months.

During the two years Ezam could not have seen much of Anwar Ibrahim. He only met him during weekly staff meetings of which he was mainly silent perhaps for being too young and too much in awe of the future prime minister or when he accompanied him in public political functions.

Azmin, being the private secretary, saw the boss the most in private. He was the gate keeper, arranging meetings and communicating messages to the corporate and political movers and shakers of Malaysia.

I had the singular honour of dealing with the most uncelebrated visitors, people whom other secretaries prefer to make themselves scarce when they knocked at the door of the DPM's office. They were intellectuals, genuine and occasionally pseudo, great scholars as well as deep thinkers. It was a real pleasure to open the door for Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Ali Mazrui, and it was a real treat to sit in and to listen to Anwar’s conversations with Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul and futurist Alvin Toffler.

Ezam, I suppose, must be the Special Branch's biggest success story in turning over. If he wasn't turned over how he could have written a letter to Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi while serving his prison term in Kajang. He was the most celebrated of the ISA detainees but upon his release he refused to be present with them at a press conference. He also avoided being on the same platform at any rally.

When Anwar was released and regained his health, leaders fought tooth and nail to have him speak at their constituency. But Ezam evaded offers by Anwar to speak in Shah Alam, his division, and asked Shamsul Iskandar to sit in for him as Anwar toured of the country.

Why Ezam failed the test while the rest continue to walk tall as Reformasi heroes? I think he suffered from a disease I call Alcibiades syndrome. Alcibiades was the most controversial Athenian politician during the Peloponnesian War and one of the disciples of Socrates. He was immortalised in Plato's dialogue called "The Symposium". Instead of trying to understand Socrates' philosophy he was enthralled with the personality of the philosopher.

His speech in the symposium was all encomia to his teacher. In his politics he betrayed Athens by joining the city's mortal enemy, Sparta, then rejoined Athens to fight against Sparta and later betrayed Athens to join the Persians.

I saw Ezam giving a similar speech in Jakarta, when we were in a short exile, at the launching of the Indonesian version of Anwar’s Asian Renaissance. He didn't say a sentence on the book, or about Tagore, or Iqbal, or Rizal and Okakura. He was saying "Anwar this, Anwar that" and I at the time was praying that lightning and thunder would strike so that he could end his dumb speech.

I saw him in Ipoh where I heard him say: "I joined Umno because of Anwar Ibrahim, and left Umno because of Anwar Ibrahim." Of which he received a standing ovation among the youth delegates.

I saw his character in the Romance of Three Kingdoms, in the personality of Lu Bu whose politics is marked with a series of betrayals. But both Lu Bu and Alcibiades ended in ignominious deaths.

About the Author: Khalid Jaafar is a Parti Keadilan Rakyat supreme council member and a close confidante of Anwar.