(Kuala Lumpur, Sunday): Monday’s
New Straits Times (3.6.02)
carried the front-page headline “Malaysia has the best legal system in Asia, say expatriates”
with the report: “Corruption and political interference are rife throughout
police and justice systems in Asia, but Malaysia has the best legal system,
according to a survey of expatriates in the region”.
This was followed
up the next day with an editorial entitled “Well
judged” which said:
“ONE or two high-profile cases
cannot make or un-make a country's judiciary. The expatriates polled by the
Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) in Sin-gapore knew that there was
a whole lot more to running a legal system than the conduct of headline-grabbing
trials. From the efficiency of the police, to the profes-sionalism of lawyers
and the proficiency of judges, they rated Malaysia's legal system highly, in
spite of the travails of the Anwar Ibrahim affair.
”The PERC poll made a point about controversial cases in the best-rated countries: that although judgments are final, they are still open to scrutiny — in the legal fraternity, the Government and the public at large. That is what happened after the Anwar trial. There was enough debate to convince the polled expatriates that ‘checks and balances still exist in Malaysia’.
”Indeed. The doubts raised by the trial had, rightly or wrongly, questioned the integrity of the judiciary and the Government, which responded quickly to correct the misperceptions engendered by the Anwar camp. Reforms were effected, and to its credit, the judiciary has come out looking fitter that it has in some time.”
The NST front-page report and the editorial at the beginning of the week must have caught Malaysians must surprise, raising the question whether it is true that Malaysia has been adjudged by expatriates in the region as having the “best legal system in Asia” when 18 months ago, it was the subject of a terrible indictment of the international judicial and legal community on the rule of law and system of justice in Malaysia in a scathing report entitled "Justice in Jeopardy: Malaysia 2000".
Malaysians must have
been very confused, for last Sunday, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir
Mohamad had advised journalists to “place greater emphasis on telling the truth in
reporting and not be too concerned about 'popularity” when speaking at the
Malaysian Press Awards 2001, the
annual event organised by the
Malaysian Press Institute to honour local journalists and press photographers for their work.
But despite Mahathir’s advice to Malaysian
journalists to “tell the truth” and not to court popularity, whether with
the government or people, New Straits
Times could still be very economical with the truth (and even more
economical and even reckless with the truth in news columns and articles)
as a careful study of the latest Asian
Intelligence report of the Political
and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) survey of expatriate opinion on the police
and the justice systems in Asia presents a completely different ;picture.
Malaysia was not among the four countries headed
by Singapore which were given a pass mark in the PERC survey for their police
and justice systems. True, among
the countries which failed to reach the pass mark, Malaysia led the pack – but
this is very different from the impression given by the NST headline report and editorial that “Malaysia has the best
legal system in Asia”!
The PERC survey
rated countries with a scale of one to 10, with Singapore seen as having the
best legal and police system with a rating of 1.7, followed by Hong Kong (2.9),
Japan (3.67) and South Korea (4.83).
the countries which failed to reach the pass mark, rated at 6.29, followed by
Taiwan (6.33), Vietnam (7.08), India (7.33), China and the Philippines (7.78),
Thailand (7.96) and Indonesia (9.83).
The survey also
took in the United States and Australia as Western barometers, with the US
topping the poll at 1.67 and Australia placed third with 1.82, just behind
It sad that we
should trumpet as having the “best legal system in Asia” when we only lead
the Asian countries which failed to reach the pass mark of the survey, when we
should aim to be the “best of the best” rather than be pround and contented
as being the “best of the worst”!
in Ipoh early this week – the blatant police abuses of power in my wrongful
arrest, the wrongful raid on DAP Perak premises and statements by Barisan
Nasional Ministers and leaders that
I had committed sedition even before the Attorney-General had decided on whether
there is a case for prosecution and the judiciary a chance to decide on the
matter – would have further undermined Malaysia’s international
competitiveness in having the best police and
justice systems and impeded the pace of Malaysia’s economic recovery
I am very
annoyed that after the irresponsible statement by the Deputy Prime Minister and
Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Friday that I would be
prosecuted for the offence of sedition because of the “No to 911, No to 929,
Yes to 1957” pamphlet because it was “politically-motivated”, the Deputy
Home Minister, Datuk Zainal Abidin
Zin had repeated the allegation that I had distributed a “seditious”
and Zainal’s statements were given coverage by some media – calculated to
present the picture that DAP leaders are criminals under the Sedition Act in
distributing the “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” pamphlet – when the
Attorney-General had not yet exercised his absolute discretion as to whether
there is a case for prosecution and the judiciary have not decided whether the
pamphlet is “seditious” under the Sedition Act.
to allege that the pamphlet is “seditious” under the Sedition Act is
tantamount to continuing to describe DAP leaders as criminals under the Sedition
Act. I am issuing a two-point
ultimatum if Barisan Nasional leaders do not immediately stop baseless
allegations that the “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” pamphlet
is seditious implying that DAP leaders are criminals under the Sedition
Act, as the following two actions
would immediately be taken:
DAP will lodge
an immediate police report against the Prime Minister and UMNO President, Datuk
Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad for the offence of sedition under the Sedition Act,
for if defending the 1957 Merdeka Constitution and “social contract” is
deemed “seditious”, Mahathir’s “929 declaration” that Malaysia is an
Islamic State which goes against the Merdeka Constitution and “social
contract” must be even more seditious.
proceedings of defamation against Barisan Nasional Ministers and leaders for
alleging that DAP leaders are distributing the “seditious” campaign pamphlet
implying that DAP leaders are criminals, just as it is highly defamatory to
allege any person for handling “stolen property”.
On his return from his visit to Vatican City, Switzerland and Luxemberg, Mahathir should answer two specific questions:
Firstly, whether Malaysian democracy, human
rights and the rule of law have deteriorated to a stage where it is only permissible to support his
“929 declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic State, while any
criticism or opposition is not permissible and considered a “sedition”
If so, would the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS) be
guilty of sedition because of their statement of
31st January , signed by its President, Archbishop of Kuala
Lumpur Most Reverend Anthony Soter Fernandez, opposing the “929 declaration”
for violating the 1957 Merdeka Constitution and “social contract”
and reaffirming that Malaysia is a secular state?
Secondly, if the “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to
1957” campaign to defend the 1957
Merdeka Constitution and “social contract” reached by our forefathers from
the major communities before Independence and reaffirmed by the peoples of Sabah
and Sarawak on the formation of Malaysia in 1963 is seditious, then would
Mahathir agree that his “929 Declaration” which went against the 1957
Merdeka Constitution and “social contract” is even more seditious?
It is no sedition to say “No
to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957”, which is a patriotic, nationalistic,
peaceful and democratic campaign to defend the
1957 Merdeka Constitution and “social contract” and for this reason, there
will be no let-up in the campaign
to defend the 1957 Merdeka Constitution and social contract.
I commend the Suhakam Commissioner, Dr Abdul
Monir Yaacob, who had received the official complaint of the Perak DAP on Friday
in connection with the police abuses of power and calling for a public
inquiry into the police violation of human rights from the DAP Perak Chairman,
Ngeh Koo Ham, and who promised that the complaint would be considered at the
full Suhakam Board meeting on Monday.
I hope the Suhakam would establish a public
inquiry into the abuses of power and human rights violations by the Ipoh police,
as the police education of their human rights responsibilities is essential if
Suhakam is to be able to discharge its statutory duties to “protect and
promote” human rights.