Tag Archives: rule of law

Like the judiciary, leaders must do the right thing

It was heartening to see the judiciary fearlessly push back the efforts of some quarters to undermine its integrity, following the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC’s) statement to start investigations on Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, who had convicted and sentenced former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in his RM42 million SRC International case when he was a High Court judge.

Speaking at the swearing-in of a new batch of High Court judges at the Palace of Justice on Wednesday, Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat said the criticisms leveled at the judiciary had gone overboard.

While saying that judges are not “immune to public criticism and accountability”, it does not mean “that it is open to citizens including politicians to level unfounded and scurrilous attacks against the Judiciary or a particular judge to further their own end”.

She then said: “It is important to emphasise that the Judiciary is the last line of defence in a constitutional democracy and there must never be a suspicion that the Judiciary is captured.”

And she added: “In other words, there can be no interference in the judiciary if we judges do not allow that to happen,” she said to standing ovation.

At last, we have a national institution that is asserting and reinforcing the fundamental principles on which it was built — independence, integrity and the rule of law. It is a characteristic that all national institutions and politicians must emulate!

I believe it is this characteristic demonstrated by the Chief Justice to fight against the fiercest of criticisms by simply doing the right thing, which is following the rule of law, that will save Malaysia.

In the current political climate, it is the courage and will to do the right thing — rather than the expedient thing — that will help us stem the tide of corruption that threatens to sweep over us.

To get out of the political gridlock that politicians are caught in, what is required is the courageous will to do the right thing. Politicians know what is the right thing to do. If they don’t do it, it invariably is because expediency overrules. Look where that has brought us to.

The people want to see politicians doing the right thing. Even if it means severing links with those who are manipulating the political climate, or losing a much-desired position like the premiership!

Do the expedient thing and even if one wins for the moment it will backfire in the end. Do the right thing and even if one loses something, for now, the people will see it and it may come back to work in one’s favour in the future, perhaps, even in the immediate future. It takes courage to take the risk of doing the right thing; the reward is eventual resolution.

Isn’t that what we are all looking forward to? Soon?

Capitol riot, PN leaders and the rule of law

The riot at the US Capitol when President Donald Trump’s supporters breached security and entered the building has besmirched the reputation of western democracies which have always prided themselves on their non-violent adherence to the rule of law — no doubt. Yet, despite the initial chaos and melee, eventually, the rule of law was restored.

The supporters were egged on by Trump to gather at the rally as he made unsubstantiated claims that the election was stolen from him although he had lost both the popular and electoral votes. The rally was meant to be a last-ditch effort to prevent Democratic candidate Joe Biden from being confirmed as the presidential election winner by the US Congress.

At some time during the rally, the crowd surged and pushed past the security officers who retreated, followed by the crowd who entered the building. One person was shot and killed and three others died of medical emergencies during the seige.

It was mayhem but the leaders didn’t fail the nation nor the democratic processed. The election was held, the votes were counted and recounted and congressmen met at the Capitol to confirm President-elect Biden as the winner. And when the siege happened, the National Guard was called, the Capitol building was secured, and a number of Democrats started calling for Trump to resign. A day later several Republicans in Trump’s own staff handed in their resignation. And Trump finally announced he would ensure a smooth and orderly transition of power to Biden. The rule of law upheld.

A democratic tradition does not mean that everything will go by the book. People being human will do all sorts of things but good leaders — not necessarily great leaders — are those who will adhere to the rule of law. In the Capitol siege, in the end, there was resolution because the leaders, including Trump, followed the rule of law. And political stability was restored.

Here in Malaysia, we have Sheraton Moves, Sabah moves, dismissal of all 46 corruption charges against a former chief minister, failure to face a no-confidence vote in Parliament, sacking of an elected Speaker, the appointment of an unelected Speaker, vote-buying, MP-buying …  Where on earth is the rule of law?

The Prihatin Nasional (PN) claims to be a caring coalition but it does what it likes and calls it the new normal. What we are seeing in the PN is simply a law unto themselves.

Look at its coalition partner Umno who has been threatening to leave the PN since the Sabah elections when they didn’t get the Sabah chief minister’s post. It had on two occasions in the past, working with Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim, threatened to pull out of PN but it never materialised. Now it plans to discuss the cutting of ties with Bersatu, the small party which insists on leading the PN government, at its general assembly on Jan 31.

Will it materialise or, like always, at crunch time, they quietly back out after kicking up a fuss and creating a storm of hot air? Bersatu president and Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will maintain a strategic silence and wait to see if it actually happens. If it doesn’t happen, he escapes by the skin of his teeth!

Maybe, he knows what I suspect, that Umno will not carry through its intention. He is willing to risk instability in order to remain in power. That’s all PN leaders want — power. But how they wield is beside the point.

Take Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan who has publicly declared that the reason for his party’s gripe with Bersatu is due to the latter’s “cruelty” in continuing with the corruption cases involving Umno members. Maslan and Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Umno adviser and former prime minister Najib Razak are among a number of Umno members facing criminal charges in court.

“Cruelty?” Don’t only little boys cry “cruelty”, “unkind”, “you’re hurting us” when disciplined and try to weasel their way out of facing the consequences of their actions? Maslan is so wounded that he doesn’t realise he is suggesting executive interference? Bersatu is to be blamed because it invited this party lead by people facing court cases to join the PN. Where on earth is the rule of law? That was sacrificed for the sake of political expediency.

The actions of Bersatu ministers are also suspect. The appointed Speaker refuses to exercise the independence afforded to him under the law to decide on a no-confidence vote unless he gets a directive from the minister. Just recently, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s party, Pejuang’s, and former minister Syed Saddiq’s Malaysian United Democratic Alliance’s (Muda) applications to be registered as political parties were rejected.

Tun said at a press conference that the Registrar of Societies said that Pejuang’s application was in order but it had to be referred to the minister, the Home Minister in this case.

Is this the rule of law? Any Malaysian’s application for registration of a society or party must be approved if it’s in order. A minister can’t reject it for whatever reasons especially when the reasons are not given. That’s denying citizens our right of association.

We want the rule of law, not leaders who are a law to themselves. Such leaders should never be allowed to govern.

The Opposition needs to take up the cry for the rule of law. They are being too quiet. There should be loud demands for the PN government’s resignation. And, responsible ministers in PN’s government must resign on their own volition. They need to put the nation first.

Learn from the US experience.

Mischief-makers upend the rule of law

Of all the current crop of leaders in the country, there is only one from my vantage point as a well-informed citizen I see as having no vested interest. And that is the Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. His only vested interest is the good of the nation. Period.

That is not to say that other leaders are not concerned over the good of the nation. They are but many have vested interests and when these come in conflict with the greater good, the human tendency is to protect your interests. But, Tun has none. He has nothing to lose. And that is why he can be trusted.

Like he said, he is a man in a hurry who wants to establish good conventions of governance so that the leaders who follow him abide by the rule of law and have no reason to seek the help of those with vested interests to wheel and deal to stay in power, like the  previous Najib government did.

Wheeling and dealing can take place with associates as long as no law is broken. But, if you are a public official there can be no monetary deals involving public funds. Even if commissions are involved in the tender of government projects, the amount must be clearly specified and the full amount should go into the government coffers and not into anyone’s pocket. Better still, there should be no commission for government tenders!

But, the culture that was openly nurtured under the previous Umno government was to “you help me and I help you and we have a win-win situation where we can also help our supporters by throwing some morsels in their direction in the form of BR1M and such” under the guise of in the name of “race, religion and rulers”. When leaders quote the latter cliched slogan, you know that’s what they mean.

Under Tun’s premiership under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government that culture has been put paid. But disgruntled Umno leaders still think they can elicit the help of vested interests to topple a rightfully elected government and Tun is fully aware of what they are up to and identified the culprits in the current Johor-Putrajaya issue by telling them: “You lost, be quiet!”

Neither Tun nor the PH Cabinet has in any way slighted the rulers. But, some people apparently poked fire and started this rift between the Johor royalty and the federal government. Notice, how quiet they are now, hiding somewhere quietly like mice while others suffer from the fallout? They should just get a job, then they won’t have time for making mischief!

Rulers generally don’t interfere with the running of the state unless approached. Ill-advised and irresponsible politicians who do that would then put them in a spot. Tun fully knows what is going on and he has made it very clear that rulers can’t interfere in the administration of the country and the state. There can’t be two rules or a joint rule.

This is the rule of law that must be respected because that is what the Federal Constitution — the supreme law of the land — states. Rulers and politicians and citizens know what the law says. Much has been written on it and it is public knowledge. Constitutional expert Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi, who is a professor with University Malaya, has stated again and again that rulers endorse what the executive decides on.

Tun is the elder statesman. He knows what he is saying. More importantly, he is laying the ground rules for future leaders so that no elected leader will be influenced by vested interests. The rule must be by the people for the people.

The issue isn’t ignorance of the law; it is compliance. If everyone without exception follows the rule of law, there will be political stability. That will eventually lead to economic progress for all, and in our case, it may come sooner rather than later — if the rule of law is upheld by all.