Federal Court’s unanimous decision setting aside Zainur Zakaria’s three-month jail term for contempt another important building block to restore confidence in the judiciary

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): The unanimous decision of the Federal Court setting aside Zainur Zakaria’s three-month jail term for contempt is another important building block in the challenging task to restore confidence in the judiciary in the past six months.

At a time when forces opposed to  efforts to establish a truly independent judiciary and a just rule of law in Malaysia appears to be marshalling their strength, the three-judge Federal Court comprising Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Steve Shim Lip Kiong, Federal Court Justices Abdul Malek Ahmad and Haidar Mohd Noor has kept faith with the public expectations when it allowed Zainur Zakaria's appeal and set aside both  the conviction and sentence for contempt.

Zainur was cited for contempt on Nov 30, 1998, by  Justice Augustine Paul for filing an application on behalf of Datuk Seri  Anwar Ibrahim during the corruption trial against the former Deputy Prime Minister.

As Haidar said, Zainur was merely performing his  role as a lawyer to Anwar by filing the application to remove prosecutors Abdul Gani Patail and Azhar Mohamad, claiming that they had ‘pressured’ Anwar’s tennis partner S. Nallakaruppan, who was detained then for illegal possession of firearms, to fabricate  evidence of sexual misconduct against Anwar in exchange for lenient punishment.

In finding that Anwar had the right by law to seek the disqualification of prosecutors if such an application was justified, the Federal Court decision has implications going beyond the personal liberty of Zainur and the duties and immunity  of lawyers when discharging their professional duties as counsels of their clients in trials, but raises the question as to whether Anwar had been properly convicted and sentenced in the corruption and abuse of power case in April 1999.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman