Categorised | Letters to the Editor

Right to seek redress in court

THE present situation in Perak raises many legal and constitutional issues.

It is the view of some constitutional lawyers that the prerogative of the Ruler is “non-justiciable” and cannot be reviewed by the courts. Thus, although we, and others, are of the view that dissolution of the state legislative assembly in Perak would have been the best solution, it is difficult to challenge the prerogative of the Ruler, who exercised that prerogative by ascertaining the views of the majority of the members of the assembly and then deciding who in the “Ruler’s judgment” (under the Perak Constitution) commands their confidence. 

However, in the Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan case, such a discretion of the governor (not a Ruler) was held to be justiciable.

We are certainly in unchartered territory.  Different interpretations are always possible.

In that regard, it is the fundamental right of any person to take any matter to the courts for determination and resolution.

We regret to note from reports in the New Straits Times today that there are certain groups who are challenging inter alia Karpal Singh’s intention to file a suit in respect of this matter. In a modern democratic nation like ours, such a challenge is wholly untenable.

Litigants and their lawyers must be free from harassment and any form of intimidation in the exercise of the right to seek redress in a court of law. An advocate and solicitor must be allowed to advance his or her client’s case without fear or favour. 

It is then up to the courts to resolve the various issues, which they must do independently and without regard to political exigencies.  Decisions made with regard to political factors never stand the test of time.

Any intimidation of litigants and their lawyers in the exercise of their rights and duties respectively is an affront to the dignity of the courts and the administration of justice.

We strongly urge that all parties respect this fundamental right to seek redress in our courts. We must never regress to a position where we sacrifice this vital principle for political mileage or self-interest.

Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan
Malaysian Bar
8 Feb 2009

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2 Responses to “Right to seek redress in court”

  1. OrangRojak says:

    I think you’re in uncharted territory. That it appears to be chartered is the problem.

  2. lee yuen chak says:

    Datuk Ambiga, you are a learned lawyer. I am amongst the many citizens who are not trained in the matter of the law, particularly constitutional law. Your comments as President of the M’sian Bar, in my opinion, on the current fiasco in Perak had fallen short of a what should be a comprehensive analysis and discussion of the constitutional procedures which should have been followed by the Perak Sultan, using the Pairin case file.

    When emotions are running high and with so much disinformation out there by both sides of the main political fronts, a calm and collected analysis of the “proper” procedures and legitimacy of the assembly should be put forward. Please speak without fear and favour, true to your conscience and let not criticism (which will be thrown at you irrespective of what you say) let you down. I await your comments. Regards. Lee Yuen Chak.

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