Categorised | Letters to the Editor

Judiciary must not be intimidated

THE Malaysian Bar welcomes the reported efforts of the police in monitoring and investigating the reprehensible incidents of arson and vandalism of various places of worship this past week.

These incidents, along with the hacking and defacing of the Malaysian judiciary’s website last week, constitute attempts to harass, and put undue pressure on, the judiciary and the judicial process. Any assault against the judiciary must not be tolerated, as the judiciary’s independence, which is fundamental in a democracy, must be painstakingly preserved. Judges must not become targets for intimidatory tactics.

We must all uphold, and accord respect to, judicial decisions. However, in some complex matters, a court decision may not produce the best solution, as the powers of a court are limited. A court interprets the law and applies the law to the facts of a particular case, but certain issues simply require more, and would be more effectively resolved outside of the courts through healthy dialogue and constructive debate. 

The calls for this matter to be heard by a Muslim judge are counterproductive, as the resulting judgment might also be criticised as biased.  All judges are qualified to deal with such matters as each judge takes an oath to defend and uphold the Federal Constitution.

The Malaysian Bar remains unwavering in its stance that individuals and groups must be allowed to legitimately exercise their rights to assemble peaceably and to express their viewpoints, including dissenting opinions. Criticism is to be welcomed, but all forms of threats, coercion, intimidation and violence must be shunned.

We call on the government to play its role by promoting avenues for discussion, such as forums and muzakarah, which will enable an open exchange of views and foster greater understanding of differing viewpoints. 

Discourse on issues confronting the nation cannot take place only at official levels, behind closed doors, but must be inclusive and involve the public and those whose lives are affected by them.

Ragunath Kesavan

Malaysian Bar

12 Jan 2010

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One Response to “Judiciary must not be intimidated”

  1. Gopal Raj Kumar says:

    Perhaps the Malaysian Bar ought to add to its lengthy list of pious platitudes in respect of how everyone from the bartender to the judges ought to conduct themselves with the following:

    Judges ought to make full disclosure of their personal, private, religious and political affiliations especially when being called upon to sit in judgement on matters that are likely to come into conflict with their duties.

    Or where these undisclosed private persuasions especially their religious commitments bring them into conflict with their legal obligations; or where their religious priorities take ascendancy over their legal obligations in deciding matters before them.

    Europe, Australia and the US require disclosures of judges (arbitrators, and other decisionmakers) to make such disclosure where matters involving abortion and stem cell research are being decided. The same applies to members of parliament. Why should it not apply to Malaysian judges?

    In failing to compel disclosure (in special circumstances) these judges are likely to compromise their integrity and their independence as judicial officers and produce questionable and unfair judgements as Lau Bee Lian has done without any recourse to their actions or omissions in this regard.

    As it is there are serious issues with respect to the credibility and the suitability of some judges.

    Some of these supposedly highly respectable (a word that means many different things to many different people) and experienced judges (in repeating their mistakes and ignorance) continue to remain on the bench with the support of the Bar.

    The biggest contribution the Malaysian Bar can make to a deteriorating socio-political situation in Malaysia is to either be totally independent and therefore detached from socio-political issues of the day or to be more pro-active as a political force and thereby lose its independence (or what is left of it).

    Curtailing open debate is one of its flaws. It has as a cohort or prisoner of its sponsorship The Nut Graph who act like they are an appendage or illegitimate progeny of that undemocratic and unaccountable Bar.

    Gopal Raj Kumar

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