Mahathir’s statement was most unfortunate, for it showed that after 18 years as Prime Minister when the judiciary suffered its greatest crisis of confidence as a result of the repeated assaults on the important principles of the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law, Mahathir is not even making a public pretence that the Executive needs to respect the sanctity of judicial proceedings.
The first three Prime Ministers of Malaysia, Tengku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn would never have made such a shocking statement threatening legal action against a defence counsel for what he said in court during a trial - as it represented an unwarranted and unprecedented attempt by a Prime Minister to interfere with a court proceeding, where a lawyer is fully protected and privileged in what he says subject only to the judge’s conduct of the trial.
Mahathir should apologise for his statement and unwarranted and unprecedented interference with the court proceedings in the current trial of Anwar on sodomy charges.
What is most shocking is that his Cabinet Ministers like the MCA President and Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik and the Education Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak are equally contemptuous of the fundamental doctrine of the separation of powers and immediately echoed the Prime Minister’s outburst, attacking not only Karpal Singh but also Judge Arifin Jaka’s conduct of the trial.
Najib said those who made false accusations must be held accountable and be prepared to face the consequences. Liong Sik jumped in and urged the Attorney-General to take appropriate action against Karpal.
What Malaysians want to know is whether the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers now regard themselves as Super-Judges, who can publicly interfere with court proceedings by demanding that extra-judicial actions be taken against lawyers for their privileged conduct in court.
In any event, Malaysians also want to know whether the Police will act without fear or favour in taking action against those who make false accusations, starting with the Prime Minister for make the false charge some three weeks ago during his pre-election tour of Perlis that Anwar’s supporters had threatened to kill his political secretary Datuk Aziz Shamsuddin.
If Opposition leaders had publicly said that Mahathir’s supporters had threatened to kill them, they would have been called in by the police to lodge a police report and provide evidence, failing which, they would be accused of being utterly irresponsible for making false accusations.
Did the Police ask Mahathir to lodge a formal police report that Anwar’s supporters had threatened to kill Datuk Aziz Shamsuddin and started police investigations?
Returning to Anwar’s arsenic poisoning, the findings of the Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (HUKM) have found that from its tests on Anwar from Sept. 10 onwards, it could not find acute or chronic arsenic poisoning, but it did not verify or dismiss the question of Anwar’s arsenic poisoning on August 18, 1999, when Anwar’s urine sample was sent to Melbourne and analysed as having dangerously high arsenic content.
This is why DAP maintains that there should be a Royal Commission of Inquiry to build on the medical tests conducted by HUKM to pinpoint on the issue of Anwar’s arsenic poisoning on August 18, 1999 and I call on the Prime Minister to set up such a Royal Commission of Inquiry without further delay to allay national and international concerns about Anwar’s health and safety.