Justice Delayed

October 5, 2011

Justice Delayed

Written by  Maclean Patrick, Malaysia Chronicle

The inability for the Malaysian judiciary to bring to closure the Altantuya murder case is shameful and highlights the creeping rot within the judiciary system. The fact that the judgement for the murder trial has yet to be written 2 years after pronouncement is a sham and reflects badly on the courts of law in Malaysia.

For beginners, the judge in question should have written the judgement, signed it in his name and submitted this to the Federal Court. This is in line with Section 281 (b)(ii) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Act 593) that requires such document to be presented upon the appeal against the death sentence.

But while the two former bodyguards of Prime Minister Najib Razak have been sentenced to hang for killing Altantuya, and have already appealed their sentences, the High Court judge, Mohd Zaki Yasin, who found them guilty has till date not written up his judgement.

How then can an appeal be made to the Federal Court if the judgment has not been written? It seems that the courts are purposely delaying the appeal process so as to allow more time to pass, yet to what benefit will this be to the two police officers already sitting on death row?

And why has the Najib administration not questioned Mohd Zaki Yasin as to his inability to write the judgement? Or is Mohd Zaki Yasin waiting for someone else to write the judgement for him? This should not be a surprise, since only in Malaysia is a judge ‘permitted’ to have someone else write his judgement.

Legal profession or wild, wild West

In an astonishing display of the corruption in the Malaysian legal system, a legal secretary testified in 2008 to a Royal Commission of Inquiry that a plaintiff’s lawyer in 1994 wrote an entire judgment to be read by the presiding judge in the case, who then promptly awarded RM10 million in defamation damages to a crony of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad against a journalist and six other defendants.

Those who have been following the Malaysian scene will straightaway know this story revolves around V K Lingam, who in September 2006 became the star player in a continuing legal scandal where a videotape was made public of a telephone conversation he was having with (Tun) Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, then the country’s third-ranking judge and in charge of the appointments of senior judges.

The videotape appeared to show that some of Mahathir’s closest associates, particularly gaming tycoon Vincent Tan, were involved in ensuring or ‘fixing’ the appointments of politically malleable judges.

Goodness gracious, the things that are tolerated!

The royal commission appointed to probe the allegations was told by G Jayanthi, then a legal secretary to V.K. Lingam, that Lingam had written the judgment for the controversial case, in which Vincent Tan was awarded MR10 million in damages for four articles written about him in the now-defunct Malaysian Industry magazine. The judgment was transferred to a computer disk and delivered to High Court Judge Mokhtar Sidin, who read it in court.

In her statement, most of which was written, Jayanthi said that that Lingam was assisted by his brother, another lawyer and the former head of Malaysia’s Industrial Court. She told the court that she had given her handwritten corrections of the draft judgment along with the judgment itself to her lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

Lingam, she said, “corrected the draft judgment in red ink on certain pages. Sumanti then did the corrections accordingly and made a copy of the draft judgment in a floppy disk which was to be given by Lingam to Justice Datuk Mokhtar Sidin. I later discovered that the judgment as was written by Lingam was fully incorporated as the official judgment of the said judge.”

Altantuya judgment still ‘hanging’- how now?

It seems that judgments for certain cases can be written in record time and also by someone else either than those involved in the case, contrary to the treatment given to the Altantuya murder. So what then is the problem facing Mohd Zaki Yasin that he has yet to write his judgement? Must a royal commission of inquiry be set up to ascertain as to why the judgement has not been written by Mohd Zaki Yasin?

There are just too many cases of judicial recalcitrance to enumerate. From the 1998 Sodomy I trial perpetrated by ex-premier Mahathir Mohamad to Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Perak crisis in 2009, judicial integrity had been on a clear downtrend that does not seem to have found any bottom yet. Just a day ago, 60 opposition MPs filed a motion all the way in Parliament to demand the dismissal of an appellate court judge for plagiarising a judgment written by former Singapore judge GP Selvam.

It’s things like these that make people say the Malaysian judiciary is unprofessional and rotten to the bone. The judiciary that is supposed to be the protector of the people has continued to fail miserably, delaying justice for the innocent and allowing the guilty a free hand at manipulating and abusing the system for their own interests devices.

The very foundation of civil society in Malaysia is compromised and for this Malaysians have to demand reforms and change. Otherwise, Malaysia, sure as a snowball in Hell, is doomed.

Malaysia Chronicle

12 thoughts on “Justice Delayed

  1. The normal sequence of a judgement should have been – the judge makes the ruling based on evidence, points of law and logic. The written judgement should then be a matter of putting this down in detail , in writing to explain this for all the world so that justice is seen to be done.

    The inability (??) of the judge in this case to write a judgement two years after the verdict is very likely evidence (!) that the verdict was in the first place either an arbitrary one or “Orders from the Top”. The judge is then trying to piece together the grounds for judgement After The Fact.

    What a shame !

  2. How can Judge Zaki Yasin find them guilty and now can’t write up the judgement? Before he pass the guilty verdict he must have heard the case and considered all the facts and come to the conclusion that he found them guilty. They are guilty of what? Why are they guilty? Surely this judge if after 2 years can’t write the judgement should be removed from the bench. Memory fades away with time.

    Judges usually write notes during trial. He should review his notes and write the judgement. Court also have recorders and these can be used to refresh his memories.

    Judges who can’t write a judgement shouldn’t be hearing cases. Maybe this Judge got his law degree through the CLP. (Remember the CLP Fiasco where the Director changed the grades) I hate to think that this is an isolated case. Perhaps there are many more judges who haven’t written their judgements or can’t write their judgements or incapable of writing their judgements.
    Semper Fi, I don’t know the Judge’s motive. But he is being irresponsible. Justice is delayed and denied. For that alone, he should be penalised or sacked.–Din Merican

  3. Judges that can’t write a judgement shouldn’t be hearing cases. – semper fi

    Our judges are waiting for a judge in Singapore or elsewhere to write a judgement of similar case first and then copy that judgement as his/her own in our own court. No??

    After all, if a judge in the august Court of Appeal can plagiarise the judgement of a Singapore judge, what’s the problem?

    When our Kangkung Professors, whose job is to teach our young minds to be scientists and professionals when they graduate, can get away with plagiarising other peoples’ work, so can the judges.

    Malaysia Boleh…. Semua pun boleh and this UMNO-BN Govt refuse to crack down hard on these embarrassing incidents, for fear of losing votes.

  4. Maybe they should change the law. If a judge fails to write his judgement within 6 months the judge will be removed and the case be brought up before another presiding judge so appeals can go on if there is a need for an appeal.Judges who fail to have written judgements within 6 months needs to be issued a show cause letter and be brought before a tribunal which shall decide to retain or remove the judge.

  5. You guys have short memories.

    It used to be VK Lingam writing judgements for judges. Now he spends a good half of the year enjoying his ill gotten gains and not having to work, outside the country.

    Do not think judges apply the law to the facts as they found them and arrive at a verdict. More often they decide based on their gut feeling and later look for the reasoning. They can arrive at the same judgement employing different reasoning. Sometimes the reasoning is so convoluted that it is hard to follow. The controversial ones get overturned. And as a judge to have your judgement overturned by a higher court on issues of law is serious. You cannot afford to have too many of those.
    This is the go head goestand approach.–Din Merican

  6. “And why has the Najib administration not questioned Mohd Zaki Yasin as to his inability to write the judgement?”

    Ask our former CJ why? We would like to know what the former CJ has to say. He has a reputation of being a slave driver and took pride being a reformist. Somehow his reform agenda did not include Justice Zaki Yasin. We like to know why?

  7. Why some people can’t sit down & write ? It is REAL tough thing to sit down & write…. : As i’hve many times heard many talented Judges say : ” Its whether you have got it, or you don’t have it ” !
    Besides the prificiency of legal knowledge one may have acquired…its the moral rectitude, character & probity of the person who sits in judgement are the prerequisites for the ability to sit down & write : Not enough there, like it or not, he has to be passionate and imbued with matters concerning human affairs, psychology & bit of philosophy & the sciences, before he can have the ” guts ” to sit down, face the ” truth” & then write down. In short, one must be acquainted with ” hard facts of life ” not merely strict wordings of the law !
    No, not trying to lectuure ….that’s the reason why some cannot sit down & write… ( gaji buta only its ok )

  8. “Not enough there, like it or not, he has to be passionate and imbued with matters concerning human affairs, psychology & bit of philosophy & the sciences, before he can have the ” guts ” to sit down, face the ” truth” & then write down. In short, one must be acquainted with ” hard facts of life ” not merely strict wordings of the law ! ” Abnizar

    I have never read so much bull.

  9. That’s because you know ” bullshit ” about judges’ work, not only hearing cases/lengthy trials….but try go through massives Nota Keterangan, Volumes of documents, Submissions by lawyers, & exhibits….
    And finally to sit down to face Legal Authorities & precedents in your own solitary hours to write judgement. Easier said than done….lay people like you merely say : ” What’s the problem ? Just apply the laws to the facts ” – TRY…TRY ?
    If you happen to a ” lawyer “, Scarlet….and i “happen” to hear you in Court, you will be ” shitting bricks” i can assure you…no kidding !

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