The Prime Minister is no stranger to making outrageous statements and allegations but what he said yesterday must rank as his most outrageous statement in his 19 years as Prime Minister, when he said he "believed there were attempts to create friction within the Government machinery out of the quarrel between the Prime Minister’s Department and the Chief Justice", that "those behind the attempts were hoping that judges would become disillusioned, leading them into making unfavourable rulings against the government", and that there were "political motives behind this, with the intention of putting judges and the Government at loggerheads" so that "when judges get angry, they will make ruling that will not benefit the Government".
By making such a statement, Mahathir was not only haunted by the "ghost" of Anwar Ibrahim, but making a blatant and unashamed call to judges to rule in favour of the Government regardless of the principle of judicial accountability.
Mahathir had blithely ignored the fact that it was the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Rais Yatim who sparked off the controversy over Eusoff Chin’s "improper judicial conduct" when judges are prohibited even from engaging in "appearances of impropriety". Even more serious, the Prime Minister had chosen to disregard the fact that no attempts had been made by Eusoff Chin to give a full and proper public accounting of his New Zealand holiday although photographs of him and Lingam had surfaced on the Internet since early 1998, leaving many questions antithetical to the principle of judicial accountability unanswered.
In fact, in the October Parliament last year, I had tabled a substantive motion about serious allegations of judicial impropriety for debate but the government refused to give it time.
My substantive motion had read:
"EXPRESSES grave concern at the most serious allegations about
judicial impropriety alleged in court in August in the Asian Wall
Street Journal (AWSJ) defamation case, viz:
"CALLS on Tun Eusuff Chin and Datuk Mohtar Sidin to appear before the full House of the Dewan Rakyat to answer the charges of judicial impropriety and to defend their integrity."
Although my substantive motion was not allowed to be debated, no action had been taken by any quarter to respond and answer these serious charges of judicial impropriety.
Mahathir’s dismissal yesterday of the call for a judicial tribunal or a Royal Commission of Inquiry even before the Cabinet could meet today is a sad commentary on Cabinet impotence and irrelevance on the 19th year of Mahathir as Prime Minister of Malaysia.