Thursday, November 01, 2007

Malaysian Judicial Corruption

I stumbled across this in the course of my work.

For the benefit of those of you who do not know who Ahmad Fairuz is, he is the Chief Justice of Malaysia. This tape allegedly reveals a top Malaysian lawyer, VK Lingham, brokering judicial appointments in the Malaysian Judiciary.

What makes this potentially more inflammatory is that the person who released this video is none other than Anwar Ibrahim, former Deputy Primer Minister and member of Justice Party (Kelidan). Here, he writes an heated critique of the Malaysian judiciary on the Wall Street Journal.

Former Lord President of the Federal Malaysian Courts (as the Chief Justice was then known) and the 9th Yang-di Pertuan Agong Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah has given a scathing critique of the Malaysian judiciary during the 14th Malaysian Bar Conference - an event poorly attended by Malaysian judges.

On September 26, 2007, 2000 Malaysian lawyers marched to the Prime Minister's Office in Putrajaya. Labelled the "Walk for Justice", their demands were clear - remove Ahmad Fairuz as Chief Justice.

Today, the New Straits Times has reported that Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz' term has lapsed, and it is unclear at to whether his term has been renewed by the Yang di Pertuan Agong.


The reason I write about this is threefold.

The first is to give recognition to the forces of globalisation - what happens to our nearest neighbour will undoubtably affect us. I have am dealing with a number of pending cases in Malaysia myself and news like this shakes my confidence that these matters will be handled fairly.

The second is a follow-on from the 377A fallout. While I am deeply disappointed with the failed attempt to repeal 377A, I am at least glad that there is some indication of listening in the Singapore government - much more so than the lack of response regarding the alleged corruption of the Chief Justice of Malaysia. In retrospect I suspect things could be a lot lot worse in Singapore, and for that, I am grateful.

The third is a cautionary tale concerning mixing religion with politics and justice. The former Chief Justice Abdul Fairuz is one of the judges rejecting Lina Joy's appeal to convert from Islam to Christianity. I note with a sense of irony the obvious parallels between this and 377A. To me, sauce for the gander is also sauce for the goose. What of the right to use a condom? How far away are we truly from echoing Lina Joy ruling?


As a final word - I'd prefer for this post not to be seen as a post in support of the failed 377A repeal, but of a timeline for a series of events that is happening very close to our shores. I intend for this post to raise more questions than answers, to discomfort more than to soothe. I see this as the only way we will learn to ask difficult questions about ourselves and state of affairs.

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