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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Exorcising Ghosts...

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The Sun today carries the following must-read front page news item.

Image hosting by PhotobucketOn today's front page of The Sun

The "Azmi" referred to is retired High Court Judge Tan Sri Azmi Kamaruddin, one of the five Supreme Court Judges suspended in July 1988, "after they unanimously issued an order to stop the proceedings of a tribunal to try then Lord President Tun Salleh Abas, pending his suit at the High Court against the constitutionality of the tribunal."

In addition to the front-page article, there is a more in-depth report, based on an interview with Tan Sri Azmi, as part of the Thursday Extra! section.

Entitled "Azmi: Review will reveal the truth" the report has the former judge elaborate why, contrary to the assertion made by De Facto Law Minister, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, that there is no need to review the 1988 decision, there is indeed a need for such a review.

Image hosting by Photobucket"Let justice be done to our senior and respected judges. The main question for the enquiry or review commission is to consider whether the real reasons for the suspension and removal of senior judges in 1988 were justified or was the reason political in nature, namely, to ensure Mahathir's victory against Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in the then pending litigation before the Supreme Court on the issue of presidency of Umno?

Secondly, were all the five gentlemen appointed in Salleh's tribunal legally qualified under the provisions of the Federal Constitution and under the rules of natural justice? (This is somewhat similar to the recent case before Datuk Hishamudin Yunus in the High Court relating to the Ayer Molek case).

Thirdly, did the second tribunal against five Supreme Court judges (of whom I was one) err in law in granting exparte leave to Salleh's application through his counsel (Raja Aziz Addruse, a former chairman of the Bar Council) to challenge in court the constitutionality and legality of Salleh's tribunal?
(more of the article and Walski's thoughts in the full post)

Further, Tan Sri Azmi asserts that a review will allow the restoration of the separation of powers (between the executive, judiciary and legislative branches of government) as stipulated in the 1957 Merdeka Constitution. He also indicates that whatever amendments made to give more powers to the Executive branch of government need to be anulled, and that the original 1957 constitution be restored.

The Extra! pull-out also carries an editorial piece by Jacqueline Ann Surin on the disappointment of Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz's adamant refusal to review the 1988 judicial dismissals.

Image hosting by Photobucket"I do not think a lapse of 18 years should be considered as too late to bring the whole matter in the open."

But perhaps the most compelling statement made by the former judge is the second part to the quote associated with the picture above: "It is never too late to discover the truth because without truth there can be no justice".

And as the de facto Minister of Law, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz should ponder these words from the former judge, rather than brazenly dismissing any call for a review, as he has been doing. There is definitely no expiry date for uncovering the truth. And in the end, the truth may not be something pretty, but we the nation, and those involved with the 1988 need to know.

It is something owed to us, you might say.

Closure, as some would call it. Without that closure, the ghosts surrounding the 1988 Judicial Crisis will forever linger in our nation's political closet, playmate to the many skeletons already frolicking in the abyss of Malaysia's young history.

Image hosting by PhotobucketWalski's totally unrelated music trivia bit for the day: The title of this post, "Exorcising Ghosts", was taken from the title of the 2002 'best of' compilation from a group called Japan, a glam-turned-avant-garde British rock group from the late-70s / early-80s. Japan, in terms of music genres, is considered part of the so-called "New Romantics" movement, and comprised of David Sylvian, Mick Karn, Steve Jansen, Richard Barbieri and Rob Dean.

Perhaps not known to most Malaysians, Japan was a seminal influence to a number of later groups, and has actually been regarded by many a music critic as the basis for the initial sound of another New Romantics group, Duran Duran (although never quite admitted by them).