The judgement was delivered by High Court judge Datuk Abdul Hamid Said in Kuala Lumpur yesterday
It is however a pyrrhic victory as far as Karpal’s personal liberty is concerned, as it could not restore the months of personl freedom which Karpal lost because of the unconstitutional and illegal incarceration under the ISA.
As the Home Minister responsible for Karpal’s unconstitutional ISA detention under Operation Lalang is none other than the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, a public apology from him to Karpal would be in order and most appropriate.
The legal vindication of Karpal’s fundamental constitutional “liberty of the person” under Article 5 of the Federal Constitution 14 years after the event should be more than a “jolt” to the judiciary to be ever mindful of the need to deal expeditiously and urgently cases where time is of the essence because of the deprivation of the liberty of the person. Every day spent in detention or prison is a day forever lost, which could not be adequately compensated in monetary terms.
Following Karpal’s case, the Federal Court should be reminded of the maxijm “justice delayed is justice denied” and not to allow any further delay in deciding former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s appeal against his conviction for four counts of corrupt practices which landed him with a six-year jail term.
Anwar was found guilty by the High Court more than 31 months ago on April 14, 1999 of abusing his power in asking the police to get a retraction from two persons, Azizan Abu Bakar and Ummi Hafilda Ali, who had accused him of sexual misconduct.
Justice Augustine Paul sentenced Anwar to six years jail for committing the offences at the latter’s residence between Aug 12 and 27, 1997.
Anwar’s appeal to overturn this verdict was unanimously dismissed by the Court of Appeal on April 29 last year by a three-member panel.
The Federal Court had postponed its hearing fixed for November 12 for Anwar’s appeal but it was postponed because of the ill-health of a member of the Federal Court.
Anwar’s appeal was originally to have been heard on Nov 27 last year but had to be postponed due to his chronic backache which resulted in him being hospitalised.
The panel at that hearing then consisted of the Malaya chief judge Datuk Wan Adnan Wan Ismail (now Court of Appeal president), Sabah and Sarawak chief judge Tan Sri Steve Shim and Federal Court judge Tan Sri Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah (now Chief Justice).
Anwar had applied for the empanelling of a five-man bench for his Federal Court appeal.
In his petition of appeal filed on June 5 last year, Anwar claimed, among others, that the Court of Appeal had failed to exercise its discretion judiciously and that it has misdirected itself in law in holding that the prosecution of Anwar was not an abuse of process.