Dato Zaid: Just do the right thing


http://www.malaysiakini.com

Zaid: Both sides want me to resign

July 30, 2008
For a politician who is widely regarded as a maverick, Zaid Ibrahim knows the consequences of being ‘politically incorrect’ on issues which do not go down well with those within his own party.

MCPX

“I have been a minister for just about three months and in that time I have talked about various issues – the need to review legislation such as the Internal Security Act, judicial reform, granting wider public access to justice through legal aid, tackling the backlog of cases, the case for greater press freedoms,” said the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department at a dinner function last night.

bar council judiciary dinner 170408 zaid ibrahim speech“Such talk has caused consternation to some elements within my own party, to the point that I am accused of espousing opposition policies, and thus I should resign.”

However, Zaid told the delegates at the Asia-Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur that he would not be deterred by calls for him to quit as “these are issues that the people want.”

The minister lamented that he was caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place as the criticism did not only come from those in UMNO.

“The opposition has also called for my resignation on grounds that I have not done enough to bring about the promised changes.”

Nevertheless, Zaid told the dinner audience that while politicians will have to grapple with political correctness, human rights advocates are made of “sterner, stronger stuff” who should speak their mind.

He said that governments can no longer say they subscribe to the rule of law and yet compromise on the issues of human rights.

“Equally they cannot say they believe in the rule of law and yet practice arbitrary detention without regard for oversights and adequate review process.

“It is the recognition of human rights that we then embrace the rule of law, the right to equality, right to fair trial, right to information and so on and so forth.”

Zaid said governments should realise that human rights can no longer be “discounted as an inconvenient truth.”

“Today, it has the power to determine the outcome of elections.”

Suhakam should develop a spine

He then advised Suhakam, the Malaysian member of the Asia-Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions, to develop a spine.

“It should be able to provide the impetus to change without fear or favour – without being accused of propagating opposition policies or being anti-government.

“It should take a more vigorous stand to have the Suhakam reports discussed and debated in Parliament. Suhakam should not feel defensive or be apologetic for any criticism laid on its doors.”

Zaid also referred to the criticism from NGOs that Suhakam’s status be downgraded from Grade A to B due to the body’s perceived lack of independence, among others.

“Suhakam like any public service body, must understand that being held to account is no longer uncommon. Calls for it to strengthen its independence by practicing a clear and transparent appointments process and for the make-up of its commissioners to reflect Malaysian plurality are not necessarily bad ones.”

The minister also said that the government can no longer continue to be in denial mode or it will have to pay the “heavy price for holding on to this delusion.”

For Zaid, reform is the only choice.

“What is it that the younger generation of this country so desperately wants? I believe they want justice and fairness. They want the institutions of governments to be credible, to reflect integrity, they want an independent judiciary where if all else fails them, the final bulwark of justice will step in to keep the powers-that-be on the straight and narrow.

“They want space to voice their dissatisfaction; they want room to exercise their right to assemble, to expression, to livelihood, education, the right to know and be informed. They want transparent and accountable use of power by the authorities and they want a government that is corrupt free.”

Zaid said he has faith in Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi – the man who appointed him minister after the electoral setback in the March general election – in bringing much-needed reforms in Malaysia.

11 thoughts on “Dato Zaid: Just do the right thing

  1. how stupid can this zaid be?

    since when the younger generation of Malaysia wants those things that he mentioned?

    WE ALL WANT A CHEAPER COST OF LIVING LA NGOK! apa guna ada those things kalau nak belanja makan pun tak cukup!

    dia senang la cakap sebab dia dah kaya!

  2. Pingback: Zaid: No compromise on human rights « I Am Malaysian

  3. eeyaw and Tok Cik, I agree with you. Let’s not just criticise. Credit must be given when due.

    At least there’s hope Zaid Ibrahim is trying to do something but he needs to be little more forceful, his political honeymoon at PM’s office is getting too long, and hope he stops ‘apple polishing’, what “faith” is he talking about(last para) when his boss’s is being ‘dicabar’ left right and centre! 😀

  4. Zaid,

    You have my support. As you say, you have been criticized from both the government and the oppositions; However, your actions are likely to gain much support from the people, especially those who concern about the health of our governmental institutions. I believe there are increasing number of common people who start to appreciate the importance of institutional health characterized with Separation of Powers, check and balance, and rule of laws. You stay at your course (even though it is a tough job), many of us, including me, will observe and give you support from time to time.

  5. “Zaid said he has faith in Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi – the man who appointed him minister after the electoral setback in the March general election – in bringing much-needed reforms in Malaysia.”

    No one expects anyone to slap the hand that feeds you! If I were Zaid I would not accept the position as Minister unless he gives me a free hand on the matter of reforms. Obviously, Badawi has given him some sort of assurance that he will not interfere. But then Badawi is not the one calling the shots.

  6. what single event in malaysian judicial history had the most impact on
    the independence of the judiciary? i think it can be argued that while
    influence and intimidation of judges played a role, the elimination of
    juries from the courtroom did even more to undermine the judiciary. it
    is much harder to confuse, mislead, fool, coerce, intimidate, bribe or
    otherwise influence the several members of a jury than it is to
    influence a judge or panel of judges. that is because first, a jury
    simply consists of more people, so attempts to bribe, coerce,
    intimidate or otherwise influence have to be multiplied. the more
    people involved, the more likely someone will resist the pressure or
    speak to the press, friends or relatives, that is, it’s harder to keep
    secret such attempt to influence a jury. with a jury, there are more
    minds to consider the facts of a case and suss out the relevant
    points. because of that, it is more likely that a decison reached will
    be based on the evidence presented. a different seperate issue is the
    supremacy of authority of the court. in the new straits times, it once
    was said that the court has given it’s opinion, it’s up to the police
    to decide whether to follow. to be independent, the court has to be in
    a position to oversee the other branches of government and ensure that
    the police and other branches of government abide by court rulings.what single event in malaysian judicial history had the most impact on
    the independence of the judiciary? i think it can be argued that while
    influence and intimidation of judges played a role, the elimination of
    juries from the courtroom did even more to undermine the judiciary. it
    is much harder to confuse, mislead, fool, coerce, intimidate, bribe or
    otherwise influence the several members of a jury than it is to
    influence a judge or panel of judges. that is because first, a jury
    simply consists of more people, so attempts to bribe, coerce,
    intimidate or otherwise influence have to be multiplied. the more
    people involved, the more likely someone will resist the pressure or
    speak to the press, friends or relatives, that is, it’s harder to keep
    secret such attempt to influence a jury. with a jury, there are more
    minds to consider the facts of a case and suss out the relevant
    points. because of that, it is more likely that a decison reached will
    be based on the evidence presented. a different seperate issue is the
    supremacy of authority of the court. in the new straits times, it once
    was said that the court has given it’s opinion, it’s up to the police
    to decide whether to follow. to be independent, the court has to be in
    a position to oversee the other branches of government and ensure that
    the police and other branches of government abide by court rulings.

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