Cabinet Ministers cannot continue to  act with "eyes that see not and ears that hear not" and should act immediately to  redeem Malaysia’s honour and repute by setting up a Commission of Inquiry into "Justice in Jeopardy: Malaysia 2000"

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Monday): On 17th February 2000, the Malaysian Permanent Mission in Geneva was sent two  advance copies of the report: "Justice in Jeopardy: Malaysia 2000", inviting comments from the Malaysian Government by 15th March 2000 for incorporation in the published version of the report.

The four international legal organisations which jointly sponsored the report, the International Bar Association (IBA), the Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers of the International Commission of Jurists (CIJL), the Commonwealth Lawyers’  Association (CLA) and the Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA) never received any reply from the Malaysian Government and it published its report, which was a damning indictment on the system of justice in Malaysia, without any comments by the Malaysian authorities.

More than two months have passed since the publication world-wide of the report and more than two weeks have passed since the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim had promised the Second Australia-Malaysia Conference in Canberra that he would be presenting the report to the Cabinet, but to date, there has been no proper official response to the latest international indictment of the system of justice in Malaysia.

Cabinet Ministers cannot continue to  act with "eyes that see not and ears that hear not" pretending to be  blissfully unaware of the damning indictment of the system of justice in "Justice in Jeopardy: Malaysia 2000" and the Cabinet should on Wednesday  redeem Malaysia’s honour and repute by setting up a Commission of Inquiry into the whole question of the independence, impartiality and integrity of the system of justice in Malaysia.

The Cabinet should not be unmindful of the fact that lack of national and international confidence in the system of justice in Malaysia would be a major factor retarding Malaysia’s development process by  undermining Malaysia as an international investment centre as well as the country’s plan to be an IT power, as borne out in the latest report of the  Hong Kong-based Political Economic And Risk Consultancy(PERC), which  ranked  Malaysia as amongst the five  countries with the worst legal system in Asia.

The PERC survey, released  during the weekend, were based on polling of more than 1,000 respondents, mostly in the countries assessed.

The legal systems of Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong are ranked as the best in Asia by expatriate businessmen, followed by Taiwan, Philippines, Thailand and South Korea. Malaysia headed the worst list followed by India, Vietnam, China and Indonesia.

PERC Survey(0 is the best possible score and 10 the worst)

The PERC survey said:
  The Cabinet cannot take such international perceptions about misgovernance and the lack of independence of the Malaysian judiciary lightly, if Malaysia intends to be a serious player in the international market-place.

The emergency general meeting of the Bar Council on June 23, 2000 on the conduct of Chief Justice, Tun Mohd Eusoff Chin, calling for  his suspension pending the outcome of a Judicial Tribunal or a Royal Commission of Inquiry, should be broadened to include consideration of  "Justice in Jeopardy: Malaysia 2000".

There should in fact be a full-fledged nation-wide debate instead of a conspiracy of silence on the latest international condemnation of the system of justice in Malaysia, focussing in particular on the findings and recommendations of the "Justice in Jeopardy: Malaysia 2000".

Part III of the report on  "Relationship between the Judiciary and executive" said:

It made 12 specific recommmendations for the restoration of the rule of law and a truly independent judiciary namely:
The first question is whether the Cabinet is prepared to admit that the problem of crisis of confidence in the independence of the judiciary exists, or whether the Cabinet continues to be of the view of those who have "eyes that see not and ears that hear not" in denying the existence of such a fundamental problem in our system of governance for over a decade.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman