Kuala Lumpur, 18 September: Bekas naib presiden Transparency International Tunku Abdul Aziz Ibrahim menggesa supaya Suruhanjaya Siasatan Diraja (RCI) mengenai salah laku dalam sistem kehakiman diperluaskan skopnya kepada ketika era pemerintahan Pakatan Harapan (PH).
Beliau yang juga sebelum ini merupakan bekas naib pengerusi DAP berkata, siasatan juga harus membabitkan pelantikan hakim dan keputusan kehakiman dibuat sepanjang 22 bulan pentadbiran PH.
Hal ini katanya berikutan tindakan bekas ketua hakim negara, Richard Malanjum yang menyatakan sokongan secara terbuka kepada Warisan Plus dalam Pilihan Raya Negeri (PRN) Sabah baru-baru ini.
Apatah lagi katanya, Richard Malanjum hanya bertugas selama 9 bulan, dan bersara pada 2019, kemudiannya dilantik sebagai pengerusi Berjaya Land.
Tambah Aziz, perkara itu menimbulkan “keraguan serius” mengenai kebebasan badan kehakiman.
“Ramai antara kita yang telah memberikan fokus pada kebebasan kehakiman mungkin dapat dimaafkan kerana bimbang sesuatu tidak kena dengan pentadbiran sistem keadilan jenayah kita. Kepentingan utama sistem kehakiman bebas tidak harus terlampau ditekankan. “Sekiranya warganegara kita tidak dapat keadilan di mahkamah, di mana mereka hendak mendapatkannya?,”Tunku Abdul Aziz
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IS OUR CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM REALLY FREE FROM POLITICAL INTERFERENCE?
By : Tunku Abdul Aziz
Former Chief Justice Richard Malanjum’s appointment as Chairman of Berjaya Land so soon after stepping down from the country’s highest judicial office, did not go unnoticed. As if to confirm public suspicions about his appointment, his open expression of support for PH Plus in the Sabah elections has raised serious doubts about the independence of the judiciary during his watch.
What has fueled uneasiness, and understandably so, is the fact that the ultimate controlling shareholder of Berjaya Group is a close ally of immediate past Prime Minister Mahathir. Mahathir, many may recall, was named in the infamous Lingam “looks like me, sounds like me, but not me” incident.
Such incidents were common during the Pakatan Harapan rule which gave rise to suspicions and perceptions, rightly or wrongly, of political bias and interference that tended to put undue pressure on the ethically challenged members of the judiciary that hampered the administration of justice.
An example that comes readily to mind was the SRC case involving former Prime Minister, Najib Razak. It was initially heard by Yang Arif Mohd. Sofian Abd. Razak on 4 July 2018. However, the judge was quickly replaced by Yang Arif Mohd. Nazlan Mohd. Ghazali after Richard Malanjum was elevated to Chief Justice on 11 July 2018 in what was reported as a “normal routine change”.
Richard Malanjum served for only nine months, retiring on 12 April 2019. He was soon after appointed Chairman of Berjaya Land.
The series of events taken together raised a number of questions relating to the arrangements of the trial. Replacing a judge once a trial had commenced seemed most unusual.
What was seen as even more unusual was the appointment of Yang Arif Mohd. Nazlan to replace Yang Arif Mohd. Sofian Abd. Razak. Yang Arif Mazlan had only been appointed to the High Court as a judge presiding over commercial cases on 30 January. 2017.
I am advised that commercial cases are adjudged on the principle of the balance of probabilities. In criminal cases, again, I am under advice, the requisite standards of proof are much higher, and the proof of guilt, therefore, has to be beyond all reasonable doubt.
Now, this is mind boggling to say the least. Out of the blue, like a white rabbit out of a magician’s top hat, Yang Arif Nazlan appeared on the scene, having been transferred to the criminal court to replace the sitting judge in the countriy’s most important criminal trial. By all accounts this would be the first ever criminal case he had been instructed to preside over.
Typically, a very experienced veteran would be assigned to a high profile public interest case involving no less a personage than a former Prime Minister. You would not, in all the circumstances, have expected a commercial court judge, appointed barely 1 1/2 years ago to the High Court, with no record of prior experience as a presiding judge in criminal cases, to be assigned to this highly complex case.
More raised eyebrows when it became public knowledge that the same judge was also assigned to hear other UMNO or UMNO-related criminal cases involving Isa Samad, Zahid Hamidi, the seizure of UMNO Pekan money, Hafarizam and even the DAP- related LTTE cases.
When you consider there are more than 50 High Court judges in the country, any coincidence that it had fallen to the lot of same judge to hear all these politically-related cases was highly improbable, and I am told, it would be a “huge statistical anomaly”.
His decision on the LTTE cases even earned for him special praise by the then Pakatan Harapan-appointed Attorney-General, in the following terms:
“Justice Nazlan recognised the principles in the basic structure doctrine and developed in the Indira Gandhi and Semenyih Jaya cases, when holding Section 13 of the Sosma Act as unconstitutional because that section closes the door to judicial application for bail.” https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/12/13/ag-will-not-appeal-high-court-decision-declaring-sosma-unconstitutional
On present showing, many of us who put great store by the independence of the judiciary may be forgiven for fearing that all is not well with the administration of our criminal justice system. The paramount importance of an independent judiciary cannot be overemphasised.
SUHAKAM’s call for an inquiry into the judicial interference arising from the explosive affidavit filed by the Court of Appeal judge, Hamid Backer, should extend its scope to review the appointment of judges, and the judicial decisions handed down, during the Pakatan Harapan Government.
If our citizens cannot expect justice in their law courts, where do they seek it?
What we are seeing today may be fairly described as “set piece” political interference with, and manipulation of, the independence and integrity of the judiciary by the Pakatan Harapan Government.
Their abuse of the doctrine of the separation of powers cannot be allowed to continue in a democracy. The Government of the day has a clear duty to undo the damage inflicted on the judicial system.
Baru-baru ini, Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia (Suhakam) mendesak untuk mempercepatkan pembentukan RCI bagi menyiasat salah laku yang didedahkan dalam afidavit difailkan Hakim Mahkamah Rayuan, Hamid Sultan Abu Backer pada 2019.
Suhakam menegaskan walaupun Putrajaya pada Februari 2019 mengumumkan untuk menubuhkan RCI bagi tujuan itu, namun sehingga kini tiada sebarang perkembangan mengenainya.
Desakan itu wujud selepas Hamid dikatakan memberikan jawapan yang keras terhadap surat tunjuk sebab diberikan kepadanya bagi menegaskan afidavit dibuatnya sebelum ini bahawa seorang hakim kanan telah campur tangan dalam pelbagai keputusan termasuk membabitkan kes hasutan Karpal Singh.
Menurut laporan FMT, dipercayai hakim kanan berkenaan yang dijadualkan bersara tahun depan tetap dengan segala isi kandungan dalam afidavit itu selain penghakimanya setebal 101 muka surat yang disampaikannya pada awal Jun.
Ia adalah kali pertama surat tunjuk sebab diberikan kepada hakim sejak kod etika diwujudkan pada 2009.-Buletin TTKM-