My dear friends, associates, and fellow bloggers,
When the report by Beh appeared on malaysiakini (below), I had just finished reading Leela Barrock’s Taking Liberties in the February 4, 2008 issue of the Edge (soon this paper will be in the hands of Vincent Tan!) in which she reminded us that “with unfettered power, the executive (the Prime Minister in our case) has been able to forge any number of pacts with its cronies, costing the country billions. Ill-fated deals such as the multi-billion naval dockyard contract and the Port Kelang Free Trade Zone were awarded with less than a nod to sound business sense. Numerous inflated contracts have been awarded, reneged and abused without the threat of being challenged in the courts”.
She quoted Lord Acton who said “Great men are almost always bad men”. I would add that Acton’s observation applies as much to less than great men, and those who think they are great. Weak men in power too can be manipulated when the system of checks and balances is destroyed. So we have a situation where the executive can acquire a RM 200 million Airbus Executive Jet for his use, and a minister of defence through his cronies can earn nearly RM1 billion in commissions for the purchase of two French made submarines and a fleet of Russian fighter aircraft. No one bats an eyelid. No citizens action suit too.
When the Judiciary, as adduced from the hearings in HaidarLand, is totally corrupt, there can be no justice for the wronged against the wrong. Leela mentioned the idea of amnesty (an idea from Najib’s banker brother, Nazir Razak, The Edge,Issue 685) so that past sins can be absolved without allowing redress for those who may have been wronged. How convenient and simple, but it is not a solution to stopping the rot in our Judiciary, whose image has been severely tarnished in the eyes of the world.
She seems to favour the amnesty route because “it would enable us to start again” and “would enable us to go forth with a new set of values and ideals that adhere to the principles of liberty and common law”. She adds that “we could allow amnesty with a (South African style) Truth Commission to heal the wounds of the past and move forward whole”. It is not that easy, madam.
In our case, the witnesses who appeared before the Royal Commission of Inquiry are less than repentent and truthful, pleading loss of memory and other excuses, while VK Lingam—if we can rely on reports in the mainstream media—was lying to his teeth. What makes it so certain that they will confess in a open Truth Commission and recompense.
The public perception is that the Haidar Commission is a waste of time and taxpayers’ money. Important witnesses have been denied their right to testify. So, as things stand today, we will probably never know the truth. But one thing is very clear—irrespective of the Haidar Commission’s findings— to even the common man in this country: Tun Salleh Abbas (in 1988) and Anwar Ibrahim (1998) were victims of an all powerful executive who used the Judiciary for his political ends with the help of business cronies and hatchet men. A grave injustice has been done to them and this is not subject to amnesty.
Justice must be done and the dignity and integrity of the Judiciary must be restored. Otherwise, as Leela said, “…the image of Malaysia as a tinpot economy will be cemented”. —Din Merican
by Beh Lih Yi
February 5, 2008
The Royal Commission of Inquiry today barred PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim and social reform movement Aliran from participating in the proceedings.
The decision was made due to their refusal to withdraw and apologise for their contemptuous remarks made against the commission. Commission member Steve Shim said that commission would consider penal consequences against them later.
Under the Commission of Inquiry Act, acts of contempt are punishable with a maximum RM100 fine or a three-month jail.
Following their ruling, the commission told lawyers representing Anwar and Aliran that they are not allowed to participate in questioning or submitting in the proceedings. Five lawyers then staged a walkout, stating that this was against the commission procedures. They said that they would seek a judicial review on the matter.
Yesterday Anwar and Aliran declined to withdraw statements said to be in contempt of the commission.