Saturday, March 14, 2009

Kim Quek: "Say No to Najib!"


Posted in Malaysia Today | Friday, 13 March 2009 11:30

By Kim Quek

Minister Nazri Aziz’s barefaced denial of any wrongdoing by the attorney general and inspector general of police in Anwar Ibrahim’s black eye case in the face of incontrovertible evidence is an affront to common decency and an insult to people’s intelligence.

Answering a question in Parliament on March 11, Nazri said the then Anti-Corruption Agency (now the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission or MACC) had completed the investigations and concluded as early as September last year that both AG Gani Patail and IGP Musa Hassan were innocent of Anwar’s written complaints of fabrication of evidence. If that is the case, why didn’t the AG’s chamber use this conclusion to counter Sessions Court Judge Komathy’s decision to reject AG’s request to transfer Anwar’s sodomy trial to the High Court on ground of AG’s entanglement in the black eye case? Shouldn’t the prosecutors have used the AG’s “confirmed” innocence as the perfect argument in the first instance, instead of fighting doggedly from one court hearing to another just to ensure that Anwar’s trial could be taken away from Komathy and transferred to another judge in the high court?

Coming on the heels of a spate of daring and shameless breaches of the constitution and the laws beginning from the illegal power grab in Perak, Nazri's move to cover up for the AG and IGP is perceived as the latest manifestation of a new pattern of lawlessness demonstrated with increasing boldness and arrogance by practically all the institutions of state that include the election commission, police, judiciary, prosecutors, civil service and the MACC.


It is no coincidence that this new phenomenon of crass contempt for the rule of law only cropped up after Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi passed on the effective running of the country to prime minister-in-waiting Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak at the beginning of the year. Let us take a brief look at some of these events.

On February 3, the Election Commission illegally usurped the authority of the Speaker of the Perak state assembly to reject the resignations of Pakatan Rakyat (PR) assemblymen Jamaluddin Radzi and Osman Jailu, and refused to conduct by-elections in their respective constituencies.

The next day, Najib suddenly appeared at a press conference with four so-called ‘defectors’ from Pakatan Rakyat, after more than one week of cloak-and-dagger political machinations of “mysterious disappearance, hopping, double-hopping, kidnapping and bribery.” Najib claimed that Barisan Nasional (BN) had the majority to rule Perak with the assembly tied at 28 vs 28 with ‘3 friendly independents’, though the resignations of these ‘3 independents’ had already been accepted by the Speaker.

On February 5, after granting an audience to Najib and assemblymen supporting BN, the Perak Sultan ‘ordered’ Mentri Besar Nizar Jamaluddin and his cabinet to resign in a press statement. But Nizar declined to resign on the ground that he had not lost the support of the majority of assemblymen and instead, he reiterated his request for the Sultan’s consent to dissolve the assembly for a fresh election to resolve the political impasse.

The next day, the Sultan appointed a new Mentri Besar, Zambry Kadir.

Meanwhile, Mentri Besar Nizar (who has not resigned to this day) and his cabinet were physically evicted by the police from the state government building, almost immediately after the Sultan ‘ordered’ Nizar’s resignation on February 4. However, Nizar and his cabinet have continued to carry out their duties, initially at the official residence of the Mentri Besar, and later at another office after moving out from his official residence.

While both Nizar and Zambry and their respective cabinets have been functioning in parallel, a number of suits and counter suits have been filed between the two camps to claim legitimacy of government.


Confrontations between the two camps came to a head when the Speaker V. Sivakumar (left) called for an emergency sitting of the assembly to be held on March 3, which was rejected by Zambry as ‘unlawful.’ On the eve of the meeting, a circular appeared in the Secretariat Building to say that the building (where the State Assembly is housed) would be closed the next day. And Perak Chief Police Officer, Deputy Commissioner Zulkifli Abdullah warned that no one, including assemblymen, should gather at the building, upon advice by the pro-BN Assembly Secretary Anton Sabri that the emergency session was ‘invalid’.

The Speaker however warned that neither CPO Zulkifli nor assembly clerk Anton should try to thwart a legitimate sitting of the assembly duly convened by the Speaker, as any such attempt would be deemed a breach of Section 124 of the Penal Code, an offence punishable by seven years' imprisonment.

On the morning of March 3, PR assemblymen were denied entry to the State Assembly by a barricade of riot police under the command of Ipoh OCPD Asst Comm Azisman Alias who warned the assemblymen to disperse on pain of arrest. Also physically repelled by a group of rowdy BN supporters who threatened violence, the assemblymen retreated to a rain tree nearby, where the emergency sitting was formally convened by Speaker Sivakumar. This rain tree has since been celebrated and commemorated as the “Tree of Democracy.”

In this melee, a series of breaches of law were committed by public servants – State Secretary, police, Assembly Secretary – who failed to maintain neutrality and non-partisanship in politics in the current power struggle between PR and BN:

* Pro-BN State Secretary Rahman Hashim for illegally giving order to seal off the State Secretariat Building.

* Pro-BN Assembly Secretary Anton Sabri for usurping the authority of the Speaker to interpret the laws governing the state assembly.

* Pro-BN CPO Zulkifli Abdullah for illegally deploying his force to thwart a legitimate assembly sitting based on his ridiculous decision to accept the word of the assembly clerk instead of the rightful authority which is the speaker.

* All three have breached Section 124 of the Penal Code.

* All three are guilty of political partisanship, in violation of the civil service code to maintain political neutrality and their vows to uphold the constitution.


On the same day of the assembly under the rain tree, the tussle for power between PR & BN took place in another arena – the Ipoh High Court, where Judicial Commissioner Ridwan Ibrahim granted an order whereby Speaker Sivakumar "is restrained from convening any unlawful meeting purporting to be a meeting of the Perak state legislative assembly.”

I regret to say that JC Ridwan has brought disrepute to the judiciary due to multiple irregularities as well as hollowness of substance of the order.

In the first place, when he gave the judgment on March 3, his tenure as judicial commissioner (a probation judge) had already expired (on February 28 in fact) and hence the court hearing was unlawful. Subsequent belated renewal of Ridwan’s contract could not validate his judgment, as at the material time when the judgment was made, Ridwan’s status as judge had lapsed.

Second, he illegally barred Sivakumar’s lawyers from representing him and instead assigned the assistant state legal adviser, Zulkarnain Hassan, to represent him without his consent. This is a ridiculously unjust imposition on Sivakumar, as the state legal adviser Kamal Shahid is in the enemy camp, not only representing Zambry in a Nijar vs Zambry suit, but has also been publicly named by Nizar as one of the five architects who plotted the fall of PR in Perak. Besides, Sivakumar had never authorized or talked to Zulkarnain.

Third, JC Ridwan’s refusal to hold the hearing in open court on such an important case of public interest was unreasonable and smacks of suspicious intent.

Fourth, Ridwan gave his order in unacceptable haste, having deliberated for only 10 minutes on a 90 minute submission by Zambry’s lawyers without Sivakumar’s participation. Since this is a case which might be argued for having infringed on the constitutional principle of separation of power, it is not possible for Ridwan to do justice without hearing the full arguments on these constitutional aspects from both parties and without him deliberating fully over the issues raised.

As for the substance of Ridwan’s order, he only prohibits "unlawful meetings." Ridwan’s logic is puzzling. If a meeting is "unlawful," it is null and void. Is there any necessity to prohibit it then?

Sad to conclude, what we witnessed in the Ipoh High Court is a fumbling probation judge who, in his over-eagerness to comply with the wishes of BN, has transgressed fundamental justice. One may ask, why should the court have assigned such an important case to such an inexperienced probation judge (whose tenure had lapsed to boot), if there was no evil design? This is but one of many examples that our judiciary continues to mire in a state of utter impairment.

(Courtesy of Knights Templar)

While these debacles in Perak are going on, relentless sabotage has been carried out against the PR governments in Kedah and Selangor. These are in the form of harassment on PR assemblymen to defect or to quit, with bribery and threats and even sexual scandal.

In Kedah, various PR assemblymen reported offers of millions of ringgit to hop party. Notably, assemblyman Arumugum was so severely harassed with bribery and threats that he resigned his seat and escaped with his entire family to India to avert possible damage to his party. These incidents have been repeatedly reported to the police and MACC, but no effective action has been taken.

In Selangor, MACC chief commissioner Ahmad Said Hamdam (left) openly and dubiously accused Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim of abuse of power over the petty issues of maintenance of his personal car assigned for official use, and the distribution of 46 cows to the poor during an Islamic festival, after a swift investigation; while he shamelessly kept mum over numerous reports of multi-million-ringgit corruption against BN leaders - cases which have been sleeping for years without any action. PR Assemblywoman Elizabeth Wong was harassed to resign her seat after her nude picture secretly snapped during her sleep was exposed in BN-controlled media. Though the suspected culprit was known, the police made no effort to bring him to book.

These blatant double standards practiced with increasing frequency and vulgarity by law enforcing agencies, judiciary and prosecutors, and their overt political partisanship have disgusted the public and caused the popularity of BN in general and Najib in particular to plunge. But instead of making reforms to salvage public support, UMNO has pursued the opposite course of lawlessness and repression under the de-facto leadership of Najib.

Little wonder that the people are increasingly apprehensive whether Najib will bring the country to a state exceeding the darkest days of Mahathirism, now that they have seen the reckless destruction of political tranquility in Perak under PR’s exemplary rule of racial unity and clean and pro-rakyat government.


On top of these worries is the curse of Altantuya’s murder which hangs over Najib’s head like Damocle’s sword. Najib should realize by now that no matter how many times he swears innocence, he cannot possibly cleanse himself of this taint - unless and until he and his aide-de-camp Musa Safri are subject to a proper investigation and exonerated by a court of law perceived as just and fair (certainly not the present court).

Now that Najib is about to take over the baton from Pak Lah, we may ask ourselves the final question: Do we want to see a Malaysian prime minister dashing around the international arena with the Altantuya tag hanging around his neck, as world leaders could not possibly be unaware of this Altantuya taint?