1. Justice Muhamad Kamil’s allegation of the tampering with justice by top judicial officer in the land
The Cabinet should set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Judicial Independence to investigate into all cases and causes for the undermining of the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary in the past decade, which would also specifically investigate into the shocking expose by Justice Muhammad Kamil Awang of the tampering with justice by a top judicial officer when his judicial superior at the time had made a telephone directive to him in September 1999 to strike out the Likas election petitions without a hearing and that such directives had also been made to other election judges in Sabah and Sarawak.
Muhammad Kamil had made a great contribution to efforts to restore the public's confidence in the judiciary, as it is through a catharsis of the soul of the judiciary where all past judicial improprieties and transgressions are exposed and exorcised that there could be a full restoration of a truly independent judiciary and a just rule of law.
Muhammad Kamil has given an acceptable reason as to why he has not lodged
a police report. He said he had told the caller, his judicial superior
who had identified himself and who had wanted him to strike out the Likas
election petitions without a hearing: “This is my case, it's my decision
and I want to be fair. If you want me to do something, then I request that
you drop me a note in
Muhammad said if he had the directive from the caller in writing, it would have been easier for him to lodge a police report.
As similar directives had also been issued to other election judges in Sabah and Sarawak, only a comprehensive inquiry in the form of a Royal Commission of Inquiry can do justice to carry out a catharsis in the soul of the judiciary to expose and exorcise judicial improprieties, irregularites and transgressions to salvage the credibility and integrity of the Malaysian judiciary from its lowest ebb until the appointment of Tan Sri Mohamad Dzaiddin Abdullah as the new Chief Justice in December 2000.
2. MCA takeover of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press
The Cabinet should take cognisance of the overwhelming opposition of the Chinese community and Malaysians committed to press freedom, human rights and democracy to the MCA acquisition of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press and express its disapproval of the takeover in line with Section 13 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1986 which vests in the Home Minister the final powers on the transfer or assignment of any printing licence or permit.
In accordance with the Rukunegara pledge to maintain a democratic way of life in Malaysia, the Cabinet tomorrow should adopt a policy decision to democratise the mass media to reduce and eventually end political party ownership of the mass media, starting by disallowing the MCA takeover of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press to prevent a further concentration of political party ownership of the mass media.
The MCA Ministers in Cabinet should be made to accept full responsibility if the livelihood of over 1,000 workers in Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press are imperilled because of drastic reduction in circulation because of the boycott campaign by the Chinese community, resulting in the two newspapers suffering the same fate as the former MCA-owned newspaper, Tung Bao which had to close down when its circulation plummetted from 100,000 to 10,000 a day after MCA takeover.
3. ISA detentions
The Cabinet should demand satisfaction that there is sufficient evidence to justify the formal detention of Parti Keadilan Nasional leaders, Mohd Ezam, Tian Chua, Saari Sungib and reformasi activist Hishammudin Rais and resolve that these evidence should be made public and the four charged in court to afford the four the opportunity to defend themselves in an open trial - in keeping with Malaysia’s commitment to a just rule of law.
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim, said in his book “Freedom under Executive Power in Malaysia” (1996) that the Internal Security Act “has been used to thwart political ideologies and activities adverse to the ruling elite although this is not the statutory objective of the ISA”.
“The executive has been fully equipped and free to incarcerate at will persons ministerially deemed to be ‘prejudicial to public order or the security of the Federation’, a constitutional catchphrase that has cast a very wide net so as to include political thoughts and activities that may be unsuited to the executive government.” (p.369).
All Cabinet Ministers must satisfy themselves that the invocation of the ISA against the four is not again another gross abuse of the Act to “thwart” political thoughts and activities at variance with the Barisan Nasional leadership.
In December 1975, I had spoken in Parliament against the ISA detention of one of the founders of Malaysia, Datuk James Wong on trumped-up charges of disloyalty in plotting to cede Limbang to Brunei, for which James Wong was detained for 15 months and up to now, after 25 years, no evidence to support these charges were ever produced.
That the ISA detention of James Wong was totally baseless and gross abuse of power could be seen from the fact that James Wong returned to the political arena and held high government posts, and is currently Sarawak State Minister - a political career spanning 45 years from his first becoming a member of Sarawak’s Council Negeri in 1956.
The history of the ISA is a history of the violation of human rights of Malaysian patriots, as eloquently argued by Rais and testified by long list of ISA victims like James Wong.
Ministers should ensure in Cabinet tomorrow that they should not be a party to the continued misuse and abuse of the ISA by demanding the release of the four under the ISA or they should be charged in court in public trial.
4, A new beginning in government accountability, transparency and good corporate governance
Yesterday, the Prime Minister said that the next finance minister must be a “clean and uncontroversial” figure, as if suggesting that Tun Daim Zainuddin who had resigned from this post lacked these two qualities.
The question uppermost in the minds of Malaysians is whether the departure of Daim, notorious as a Minister for Bail-outs and Buy-outs would be followed by the abandonment of a policy of bail-outs and buy-outs involving billions of ringgit of public funds whether by companies or government-linked funds like the Employees’ Provident Fund and the Pensions Trust Fund and the beginning of a new policy of financial accountability, transparency and good corporate governance.
For a start, the Cabinet should direct the immediate issue of a White Paper on the scandal of the the Pensions Trust Fund (KWAP) sub-underwriting 48% of the RM1.88 billion Time dotCom’s IPO issue, buying up 273.86 million shares or 63.9% of the unsubscribed portion of Time dotCom’s initial public offer (IPO), resulting in the loss of some RM300 million losses jeopardising the pensions and gratuities of 850,000 civil servants in the country to bailout crony companies.