Thursday, October 30, 2008

Is outcome of Munawar's appeal indicative of what we can expect from Zaki Boss of the Malaysian Judiciary

Thursday, October 30, 2008
Is outcome of Munawar's appeal indicative of what we can expect from Zaki Boss of the Malaysian Judiciary
Chief Justice Zaki Azmi beginning to throw his true colours...

Will he be able to be INDEPENDENT of UMNO and his past friends, and be able to be concerned only with justice...

Will he be a progressive judge only concerned with JUSTICE - not fearful of developing the law so that justice be done...or will he just remain a tool of UMNO and his 'old friends'.

Also noted that Zaki Azmi was a businessman with involvement in a string of companies - and if so, he must recuse himself from any case involving those companies and/or related companies or even companies whereby his once fellow member of the Board of Directors or management is involved.

Hence, it is important to be open and transparent about these past liasons and relationship - and as such somewhere (possibly in the Judiciary Website or the Malaysian Bar Website), there must be information about all them different companies and persons he had such relationship, and other detailed background involvements not just of Zaki Azmi...but of all judges.

Was the throwing out of Munawar's appeal an indication of what we can expect of Zaki Azmi -- HOLD ON, let us wait and consider the reasons first before jumping into any conclusions..

The Federal Court today threw out an appeal by Munawar A Anees for his sodomy charge be remitted to the High Court so that he can argue his case.

Chief Justice Zaki Azmi, who sat with Federal Court judges Nik Hashim Nik Abdul Rahman and Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, delivered an oral decision, stating that their written judgment would made known later. - Malaysiakini, 30/10/2008 - Court throws out Munawar's appeal

I was trying find some more information about the companies that Zaki Azmi owned or was involved in, and I came across Kim Quek's article in Asia Sentinel which was published sometime at the end of the 2007. It makes me wonder whether the removal of Zaki Azmi as Chief Justice may have become the most important judicial reform that we may need...

The PM may have wanted his as Chief Justice. The Conference of Rulers may have wanted him as the Chief Justice. But, for the sake of the Malaysian Judiciary, I would have expected any good independent person to have declined the appointment. Zaki Azmi did not and today is the Chief Justice of Malaya. So, do not come and say that he did not have a say in the matter...

As the scandal-ridden Ahmad Fairuz exits as Chief Justice, another dubious candidate is poised to take his place.

Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi’s sudden announcement of the appointment of Zaki Azmi to the second highest post in the judiciary — President of the Court of Appeal — must have jolted and dismayed many who have cherished hopes of judicial reforms following the reluctant retirement of Ahmad Fairuz Abdul Halim.

After all, Zaki Azmi, who had not spent a single day as a judge in the court of appeal or the high court, was parachuted to the nation’s highest court — the Federal Court — only three months ago. He has not even warmed his seat as a judge, and yet he now looks poised to succeed Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad five months from now when Hamid retires in April 2008 upon reaching 66 years of age. Both Zaki’s and Hamid’s appointments were simultaneously announced by the Prime Minister on Dec 5.

In fact, when Zaki was appointed a Federal Court judge in September, he was instantly recognized at home and abroad as the person planted to the highest court to succeed Fairuz, whose request for a six month extension of service beyond his mandatory retirement on Oct 31 was not accepted by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Such instant recognition of Zaki’s mission came from his deep involvement with UMNO as a key party player. He was chairman of the party’s election committee, deputy chairman of its disciplinary board of appeal, party legal adviser etc.

As UMNO’s legal man, he was involved with the party’s myriad scandalous financial misadventures that were bailed out by the government in the heydays of former Prime Minister Mahathir’s crony-capitalism during the last Asian financial crisis. One prominent example is the RM 3 billion loan scam in the disastrous acquisition of Philippines’ National Steel Corp. (NS) by UMNO’s financial proxy Halim Saad. When the shares of NS became scrap, four top Malaysian banks were made to stomach the entire RM 3 billion losses. And Zaki was then adirector of the investment vehicle — Hottick Investment Ltd of Hong Kong — which borrowed the RM 3 billion and embarked on the acquisition of NS.

Apart from acting as UMNO’s nominee, Zaki also has held directorship in scores of major companies including some of the most well known names such as Berjaya, Metacorp, Pan Global, SP Setia, Malaysia Airports,Hume, Matsushita Electric, Pharmaniaga etc. Zaki was reported by Bernama on 21 April 2007 to have said that his 58% owned Emrail SdnBhd, a railway specialist company, had only the government as employer, and that he was earnestly soliciting contracts in the northern and southern portions of the double-tracking project to turn the cash-strapped Emrail around.

Such apolitical and business background would already have made him a poor candidate for any judicial appointment, Zaki is battered by yet another serious handicap — the question of his moral integrity arising from his controversial marriage and divorce from his second wife Nor Hayati Yahaya, who was half his age.

Zaki married Nor Hayati in a ceremony conducted by a minister from Thailand in a textile shop in Perlis in March 2005. They separated three months later. In the messy divorce that ensued, it was revealed that Zaki burned the original marriage certificate to hide the marriage from his first wife. Further, the marriage was ruled by the Syarah court as illegal.

Following the revelation of Zaki’s marital trouble, he resigned as deputy chairman of UMNO’s disciplinary board, for which he told the press: “Considering that members of the disciplinary board are of the highest integrity, I have made this decision following reports in the media …”

The question we must ask now is: If Zaki is morally unfit to serve in UMNO’s disciplinary board, how could he be considered morally fit to be a federal court judge, not to mention his lightning elevation to the No.2 position, and anticipated imminent rise to the top job in the judiciary?

Is this country so poor in legal talent and integrity that we have no choice but to appoint some one so glaringly unsuited for such important judicial position arising from his multiple conflicts of interests and questionable integrity? If not, then why did the Prime Minister make such a move? If it is not to advance the Prime Minister’s and UMNO’s interests, then what motivated such an appointment?

We have already seen in the infamous Lingam video clip how the former Chief Justice betrayed his oath of allegiance to the country and the Constitution by crawling to serve the parochial interests of his political and business masters, thus confirming the common knowledge of the depth of degradation our judiciary has sunk. While the Prime Minister and his cabinet is still dilly-dallying over the appointment of a proper royal commission of inquiry to probe into the Lingam tape scandal almost three months after its public display, are we now made to swallow another UMNO atrocity – the instant elevation of an UMNO stalwart in the nation’s highest court?

However,in the midst of despair over UMNO’s latest move, we detect something amiss in the prime minister’s announcement of this dual appointment (Hamid and Zaki). While the PM claimed that upon his advice these appointments were assented to by the king after consultation with the Council of Rulers, no effective date had been decided for Zaki’s appointment, while Hamid’s was fixed on Nov 1 — the day he started duty as Acting Chief Justice. Neither had any date been decided for the handing over of the appointment letters. If these dates had not been decided, why was PM in such a hurry to make an incomplete announcement?

Knowing that the King and the Council of Rulers had previously declined to accept nominees deemed inappropriate fill the vacancies of the President of Court of Appeal and Chief Judge of Malaya respectively, as well as having turned down Fairuz’ request to continue as chief justice, the suddenness of PM’s claim of royal assent — particularly in reference to Zaki’s controversial promotion — came as a surprise to many people. Did the king also assent to Zaki’s appointment? If so, why couldn’t Zaki’s date of appointment be also decided alongside with Hamid’s? Or was there a problem of royal assent?

Whatever the case may be in regards to Zaki’s appointment, it is pertinent to take serious note of the view expressed by the Sultan of Perak, Raja Azlan Shah, on public perception of judicial impartiality in his opening address to the 14th Malaysian Law Conference on October 29.

Raja Azlan Shah, one of the most illustrious Lord Presidents of Malaysia, said that the judiciary loses its value and service to the community if there is no public confidence in its decision-making. And the principal quality in judiciary is “impartiality”, which exists in two senses — the reality of impartiality and the appearance of impartiality. Of these two, the appearance of impartiality is the more important, the sultan said.

Taking cue from this observation, Zaki’s appointment is an unmitigated disaster, as even if he has the superhuman capability to totally severe his umbilical cord to the ruling party and his commercial interests to eliminate conflict of interests, there is still the insurmountable problem of public perception. With Zaki’s questionable background, there is no way he can command complete public confidence, particularly when the interests of UMNO or his businesses are involved.

Coming at a time when Malaysia’s competitiveness is fast losing ground,which has been contributed in no small way by its worsening judiciary image, such a daring raid on the sanctimonious ground of neutrality as the judiciary through planting a party stalwart to take over its control is destined to bring ruinous consequences to this country. Not even in the height of Mahathir’s autocracy would such a reckless adventure be contemplated.

Knowing UMNO’s arrogance and supreme confidence over its political hegemony, we do not think that it is open to advice from the public. We therefore earnestly appeal to the king and the Rulers to exert their benevolent influence empowered by the Constitution to protect our judiciary from further injury, as they have so valiantly done in the recent past.

Kim Quek comments regularly on Malaysian affairs. - Asia Sentinel, 7/12/2007 Malaysia's Judiciary: Here We Go Again

Would the most important Judicial Reform that the country require be the removal of Zaki Azmi as the Head of the Judiciary?

For me, one of the biggest problem is the shortage of judges and courts in Malaysia - and that is one major problem that has to be addressed immediately...Extreme pressure to speed-up matters are now resulting in courts striking off cases for technical reasons, etc - justice is not being done. Numbers and statistics is what most judges and courts have become concerned about --- not Justice..

In my earlier posts, I have discussed the kind of reforms that our Judiciary needs...

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi gave the indication that he was for Judicial Reforms - but alas his choice of the new Head of Judiciary makes us question whether his 'reforms' is anything like the kind of reforms that we are talking about.

Federal Court chief registrar Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat (as reported in New Straits Times, 20/9/2006), disclosed that the number of judges in the country was low compared with other Commonwealth nations. He was quoted as saying that the Malaysian ratio is "2.4 judges to a million people - a far cry from the ratio in India (10.5), Australia (57.1), Britain (50.1) and Canada (75)."
This really is the problem for the backlog and the delays in our courts, and the only solution is to increase the number of judges and courts in the country. Our population has increased, and grown in consciousness about legal rights and human rights. The number of lawyers has also increased to more than 12,000 in Peninsular Malaysia, and so too has the number of new law graduates coming out every year. Alas, the number of courts and judges have not increased at the same rate, and that is where the real problem lies.

What we need is to have more courts and more judges.- Charles Hector Blog

Zaki vows to get tough on errant judges
Wednesday, 29 October 2008 06:08pm
• Incompetent judges should opt out - Chief Justice
• Chief Justice warns dishonest group

©The Star (Used by permission)
by Sim Leoi Leoi

PUTRAJAYA: Chief Justice Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi has vowed to get tough on errant judges, whom he accuses of besmirching the image and reputation of the judiciary.

Zaki, who replaced Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad as the country’s top judge, said such errant judges should consider leaving the judiciary.

“I will not hesitate to take tough and drastic action against this small group (of judges) if the occasion calls for it. And for those in the practice of toadying, I say ‘stop it’.

“This small group have failed to fulfil their responsibilities and have affected the image of our institution. If they are being dishonest, they are also being irresponsible,” he said in his first speech following his appointment at the Palace of Justice here yesterday.

At the same ceremony, Tan Sri Alauddin Mohd Sheriff and Datuk Arifin Zakaria were also elevated to Court of Appeal President and Chief Judge of Malaya respectively.1

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin handed over the instruments of appointment to the new Chief Justice of the Federal Court, Appeals Court president and Chief Judge of Malaya, at Istana Negara in Kuala LumpurQuoting from English judge Sir Robert Peel’s speech in a case in 1834, Zaki said “such gross and grievous neglect of duty would warrant a removal from the Bench.”

Zaki said judges should remind themselves that their salaries were derived from taxes and that if they ever felt they could not live up to giving the best service possible to the people, they had the choice to quit.

“We must remember that public interest is above all else. If we choose to remain within the institution, then we must give our best,” he said.

Zaki also vowed to reduce the backlog of court cases, adding that his “rough and direct” method in his previous tenure as the President of Court of Appeal had worked tremendously towards resolving similar problems there.

“The problems faced by the judiciary are huge. Besides the perception of corruption – even if there is any – the judges need to overcome the backlog of cases and delay. People are denied justice.

“I, together with the President of the Court of Appeal, the Chief Judge of Malaya and other Sabah and Sarawak judges are determined to overcome these problems and enhance the delivery system,” he said.

Zaki promised that those who were hardworking and carried out their duties devoutly, he would ensure that their work was recognised.

“Prove that you deserve to be rewarded and I will fight for you,” he said.

Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said Zaki’s speech was positive and that the council would give him a chance to prove himself.

She said it was good to hear that Zaki had vowed tough action against errant judges.

Zaki shows he means business
Thursday, 30 October 2008 09:16am
©New Straits Times (Used by permission)
by Koh Lay Chin and David Yeow

• Top judge in a rare moment
• Bar Council lauds pledge against errant judges

PUTRAJAYA: The country's new chief justice got off to a no-nonsense start with tough talk and a steely warning to his fellow judges.

In his maiden speech after taking office as Malaysia's 12th chief justice, Tan Sri Zaki Azmi took 20 minutes to remind the judiciary about its responsibilities, the need for improvement, and to insist that errant judges had no place under his watch.

"I will not hesitate to take strict and drastic action against the errant few if the situation requires me to do so."

He also effectively showed the door to judges who were not up to the task, saying that they should quit as only those who chose to stay and give their best were welcome.

Speaking at his appointment ceremony at the Palace of Justice yesterday, he took to task a few who he said had tarnished the judiciary's reputation with their dishonesty and irresponsibility.

He threatened errant judges with stern action and swift removal if they continued in their ways.

Driving home his point, Zaki quoted Sir Robert Peel, the 19th-century British prime minister, who had said that "gross and grievous neglect of duty would warrant a removal from the bench".

The former Court of Appeal president's speech was punctuated with firm refrains, with reminders that he was "rough and direct" in his duties, that he was "vocal" and that judges who truly proved themselves would not see their efforts go to waste.

"Prove that you deserve to be rewarded, and I will fight for you," he said, adding that the practice of apple-polishing among judges must stop.

The former Umno legal adviser did not address concerns about his close ties with the party but his reaction to questions from reporters after the speech were pointed.

Asked about the delayed judicial review on the arrest of the "Hindraf Five" caused by a lack of written judgment by the Federal Court, he said he was "not a politician and don't make comments on things like that".

The ceremony also saw the swearing-in of the new president of the Court of Appeal, Tan Sri Alauddin Mohd Sheriff, and new Chief Judge of Malaya Datuk Ariffin Zakaria, witnessed by Court of Appeal judge Datuk Gopal Sri Ram and High Court judge Datuk T. Selventhiranathan respectively.

Also present at the event was Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Justice Richard Malanjum.

Earlier, Zaki started his speech by thanking his predecessor, former Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad.

He went on to talk about improvements that had taken place in the Court of Appeals when he was its head, urging his successor to continue improving the system.

"Besides the perception that the judiciary has been corrupted, even if that was the case, the bigger task that has to be faced is to clear the backlog of cases and the delays in resolving them.

"There is no justice for the people if their cases are delayed," he said, adding that he would endeavour to resolve this together with Alauddin, Ariffin and Richard.

The new chief justice also spoke of the judiciary as a machine, reminding its members that without the efficiency and function of its separate parts, the machine as a whole would fall apart.

He also urged his fellow judges to soldier on together for the good of the institution.

(From left) Former Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad, Chief Justice Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi, Chief Judge of Malaya Datuk Ariffin Zakaria, former judge Tan Sri Haidar Mohamed Noor and President of the Court of Appeal Tan Sri Alauddin Mohd Sheriff sharing a light moment during the chief justice’s appointment ceremony at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya yesterday.


Top judge in a rare moment

PUTRAJAYA: He may be stern, resolute and serious about his role in the judiciary, but Tan Sri Zaki Azmi yesterday melted into affectionate words and smiles when talking about his family.

The new chief justice spent several minutes in his speech appreciating his family, especially his late father Tun Azmi Mohamed, who served in the same position (as Lord President) from 1966 to 1974.

"I wish my late father was still with us today. He would be extremely proud of me."

In one of the rare moments in his speech where he smiled and laughed, Zaki pointed out his son, Razif, in the crowd, who was present with his wife, Louise Needham. Both were visiting from London, where they are practising barristers, he said proudly.

At this juncture, he broke from his text and spoke in English for his daughter-in-law's benefit.

He also thanked his wife Nik Salina Mohd Zain and sons for their support, relating humorously that his two younger sons Azri Azmi and Azfar Azmi were not present because they were busy with their weekly football training.


Bar Council lauds pledge against errant judges

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysian Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan was impressed by newly-appointed Chief Justice Tan Sri Zaki Azmi's maiden speech yesterday.

Speaking after Zaki's appointment ceremony at the Palace of Justice yesterday, Ambiga said his address promising stern and swift action against errant judges was "a no-nonsense and tough speech".

"I thought that it was a good speech. It was a tough speech about judges and how he (Zaki) would take action against errant judges. It was good to hear that."

In his speech, Zaki warned errant judges to either shape up or ship out, stating that he was known to be "rough and direct" as a Court of Appeal President and would continue to be the same as Chief Justice.

Zaki also pledged to reduce backlogged cases and improve the administrative efficiency.

Asked if it was acceptable for Zaki to have ties with a leading political party, Ambiga laughed and said that the public would just have to wait and see.

"I think we have to see what happens. We have to give him a chance first," she said,

Zaid says racialist social contract a 1980s Umno creation
Zaid says the racialist social contract was a product of Umno ideologues in the 1980s.
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 — If at all there was a social contract between the Malays and non-Malays before independence, it was the guarantee of equality and the promise of the rule of law, said former de facto Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim.

Offering his take on an issue that has been at the core of a roiling debate in the country, he said that the more racialist social contract — which places more emphasis on Malay primacy — was a product of Umno ideologues in the 1980s.

He believed that on the eve of independence, one of the elements which gave Alliance leaders and all Malayans confidence was the knowledge that "a constitutional arrangement that accorded full respect and dignity for each and every Malayan, entrenched the rule of law and established a democratic framework for government had been put in place.''

The Federal Constitution, he noted, was crafted by brilliant jurists who understood the hearts of minds of those who would call this nation their home and whose children would call it their motherland.

"Hundreds of hours of meetings with representatives of all quarters resulted in a unique written constitution that cemented a compact between nine sultanates and former crown territories, '' he said.

This compact honoured the Malay Rulers, Islam, the special status of the Malays, and created an environment for the harmonious and equal coexistence of all communities through the guarantee of freedoms, he noted in a speech at the Lawasia conference today.

This social contract was unilaterally restructured in the 1980s by "a certain segment of the BN leadership that allowed for developments that have resulted in our current state of affairs,'' said Zaid.

"The non-Malay BN component parties were perceived by Umno to be weak and in no position to exert influence. Bandied about by Umno ideologues, the social contract took on a different, more racialist tone. The essence of its reconstructed meaning was this: that Malaya is primarily the home of the Malays, and that the non-Malays should acknowledge that primacy by showing deference to the Malays and Malay issues. Also, Malay interest and consent must be allowed to set the terms for the definition and exercise of non-Malay citizenship and political rights. This marked the advent of Ketuanan Melayu or, in English, Malay Supremacy.

"Affirmative action and special status became a matter of privilege by reference to race rather than of need and questioning of this new status quo was not to be tolerated.

"The new political philosophy in which the primacy of Malay interests was for all purposes and intents the raison d'ĂȘtre of government naturally led to interference with key institutions, '' he said.

He urged the Barisan Nasional government to abandon the reworked concept of the social contract and embrace "a fresh perspective borne out of discussions and agreements made in good faith with all the communities in this country.''

In his speech, Zaid also touched on:

• Democracy, the rule of law and Umno

"Mukhriz Mahathir will probably be the new Umno Youth leader. In saying as he did recently that there is no need for law and judicial reforms as it will not benefit the Malays, he typifies what is perceived as the kind of Umno leader who appeals to the right wing of Malay polity.

"That he may be right is sad as it leads to the ossification of values that will only work against the interests of the party and the nation. This type of thinking may pave the way to a suggestion in the future that we may as well do away with general elections altogether as they may not be good for the Malays. We are a deeply divided nation, adrift for our having abandoned democratic traditions and the rule of law in favour of a political ideology that serves no one save those who rule.''

• The transition to democracy in Indonesia

"The majority of Indonesians have embraced democracy, religious tolerance, and religious pluralism. In addition, a vibrant civil society has initiated public discussions on the nature of democracy, the separation of religion and state, women's rights, and human rights more generally. These developments have contributed to a gradual improvement in conditions for human rights, including religious freedom, over the past few years. Since 2003, Indonesia has also overtaken Malaysia on the Reporters sans Fronteres Press Freedom Index, moving up from 110th place to 100th out of 169 countries covered. Malaysia on the other hand has dropped from 104th place to 124th place in the same period. I am not surprised. In 1999, Indonesia passed a new press law that, in repealing two previous Suharto administration laws, guaranteed free press through the introduction of crucial measures. Progress has not stopped there. On April 3 this year, Indonesia passed its Freedom of Information Act. This latest law allows Indonesia's bureaucracy to be open to public scrutiny and compels government bodies to disclose information.''

• Nation building

"We have failed miserably in dealing with complex issues of society by resorting to a political culture of promoting fear and division amongst the people. The Ketuanan Melayu model has failed. It has resulted in waste of crucial resources, energy and time and has distracted from the real issues confronting the country. The obsession with the Ketuanan Melayu doctrine has in fact destroyed something precious in us. It makes us lose our sense of balance and fairness.”

• Malays and modernity

"Dr Mahathir was right to ask that Malays embrace modernity. He fell short of what we needed by focusing on the physical aspects of modernity. He was mistaken to think all that was needed to change the Malay mindset was science and technology. He should have also promoted the values of freedom, human rights and the respect of the law.”

• The Judiciary

"The courts must act with courage to protect the constitutionally-guaranteed rights of all citizens, even if to do so were to invoke the wrath of the government of the day. In PP vs Koh Wah Kuan (2007), a majority bench of the Federal Court chose to discard the doctrine of separation of powers as underlying the Federal Constitution apparently because the doctrine is not expressly provided for in the Constitution. This conclusion is mystifying as surely the court recognises that power corrupts absolutely and can thus be abused. If the courts are not about to intervene against such excesses who is? Checks and balance are what the separation of powers is about. Surely the apex court is not saying that the courts do not play a vital role in that regard?

"The rule of law has no meaning if judges, especially apex court judges, are not prepared to enter the fray in the struggle for the preservation of human rights and the fundamental liberties. To all our judges I say discard your political leanings and philosophy. Stick to justice in accordance with the law.

Well Done, Zaid : I agree with you that UMNO’s “Ketuanan Melayu” is a failureComments:

Yes. Zaid, I agree with you “[T]he Malays…are not under seige.The institutions are such that the Malays are effectively represented, and there is no way the interest of the Malays can be taken away other than through their own weakness and folly”.

I wish to add that the Malays in general are not the problem. We are a proud and hardworking people. The concern today is that UMNO leadership is incompetent, corrupt and totally undemocratic. That leadership is now using draconian laws like the ISA to silence critics like Raja Petra Kamaruddin and others now held in Kamunting, Perak, and the Official Secrets Act and other statutes to deny the public access to information on the affairs of the country.

In order to rally the Malays back to their fold, UMNO leaders including Mukhriz Mahathir and his lot have been creating the impression that the Malays are under seige. Again, this is not true. UMNO is under seige because Ketuanan Melayu is a dismal failure.

Let us separate UMNO Malay leadership from the Malay leaders like Anwar Ibrahim and Ustaz Haji Abdul Hadi Awang and their colleagues in PKR and PAS who are an integral part of Pakatan Rakyat. They want change and have plans and programmes to make the Malays competitive and dynamic in a globalised world, while ensuring that Chinese and Indian rights under the constitution are protected. To that end, all forms of discrimination must be eliminated.

We the Malays cannot be the anchor of our nation if we are weak, incompetent and corrupt. To lead, we must be examplary in our conduct.So the Malays must realise now that UMNO is no longer relevant, that UMNO is an obstacle to Malay socio-economic development, and that as Malays we need new leadership with fresh ideas and programmes—UMNO wants more of the same failed policies— for Malays and others so that together we can be a united and proud country where there is freedom, democracy and justice.—Din Merican

Zaid: Ketuanan Melayu has failed

October 31, 2008
The ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ model has failed, declared former de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim in an incisive speech at the LawAsia 2008 conference in Kuala Lumpur this morning.

MCPX“It has resulted in waste of crucial resources, energy and time and has distracted from the real issues confronting the country,” said Zaid, who criticised the race-based policy despite being a member of the ruling Umno party which was set up to safeguard Malay interests.

Zaid also noted that ‘deputy premier in waiting’ Muhyiddin Yassin had suggested the need for a closed-door forum for leaders of the Barisan Nasional (BN) to develop a common stand, a renewed national consensus grounded on the social contract.

“This is positive step but it should include all political leaders and be premised on the social contract that was the foundation of independence,” said the lawyer by training who was made senator and subsequently minister entrusted with the task of reforming the judiciary by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi following the March 8 general election.

He quit last month in protest against the arrest of three individuals under the Internal Security Act (ISA) which provides for detention without trial.

Zaid said March 8 was a clear indicator that the ruling BN coalition no longer exclusively speaks for the people.

He also underscored the importance of promoting discourse and dialogue so that Malaysians learn to talk and to listen to one another again.”Communication and trust amongst the people must be re-established,” he said.

The former minister called on the BN government to abandon its ‘reworked’ concept of the social contract and embrace a fresh perspective borne out of discussions and agreements made in good faith with all the communities.

“It is time for us all to practise a more transparent and egalitarian form of democracy and to recognise and respect the rights and dignity of all the citizens of this country.”

Mukhriz singled out for criticism

Singling out Mukhriz Mahathir for criticism, Zaid said the UMNO Youth chief aspirant typifies what is perceived as the kind of UMNO leader who appeals to the right-wing of Malay polity.

Zaid also referred to the recent remarks made by the son of former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad that there was no need for law and judicial reforms as it would not benefit the Malays,

“That he may be right is sad as it leads to the ossification of values that will only work against the interests of the party and the nation,” Zaid lamented in his 16-page speech.

“This type of thinking may pave the way to a suggestion in the future that we may as well do away with general elections altogether as they may not be good for the Malays for, if the justice that a revitalised rule of law would allow for is not to the benefit of the Malays, what is? More inefficiency, more corruption and a more authoritarian style of government perhaps.

“We are a deeply divided nation, adrift for our having abandoned democratic traditions and the rule of law in favour of a political ideology that serves no one save those who rule.”

According to Zaid, the obsession with the Ketuanan Melayu doctrine has destroyed something precious in Malaysians.

“It makes us lose our sense of balance and fairness. When a certain Chinese lady was appointed head of a state development corporation, having served in that corporation for 33 years, there were protests from Malay groups because she is Chinese,” he said referring to the controversy involving the appointment of Low Siew Moi as acting head of the Selangor Development Cooperation (PKNS).

“A new economic vision is necessary, one that is more forward looking in outlook and guided by positive values that would serve to enhance cooperation amongst the races. This will encourage change for the better, to develop new forms of behaviour and shifts of attitudes, to believe that only economic growth will serve social equity, to aspire to a higher standard of living for all regardless of race.

“We need to meaningfully acknowledge that wealth is based on insight, sophisticated human capital and attitude change. A new dynamics focused on cooperation and competition will spur innovation and creativity.

“Some might say that this is a fantasy. I disagree. How do we go about transforming the culture and values of the bumiputeras so that their ability to create new economic wealth can be sustained?

“By changing our political and legal landscapes with freedom and democracy.”

On that note, Zaid said Mahathir was right to have asked the Malays to embrace modernity but the 82-year-old statesman fell short by only focusing on the physical aspects of modernity.

“He was mistaken to think all that was needed to change the Malay mindset was science and technology. He should have also promoted the values of freedom, human rights and the respect of the law.

“If affirmative action is truly benchmarked on the equitable sharing of wealth that is sustainable, then we must confront the truth and change our political paradigm, 40 years of discrimination and subsidy have not brought us closer. There is a huge economic dimension to the rule of law and democracy that this government must learn to appreciate.”

Conflicts of jurisdiction require resolution

Zaid conceded that relationship between Islam, the state, law and politics in Malaysia is complex.

“How do we manage legal pluralism in Malaysia? Can a cohesive united Bangsa Malaysia be built on a bifurcated foundation of Syariah and secular principles? Will non-Muslims have a say on the operation of Islamic law when it affects the general character and experience of the nation? This is a difficult challenge and the solution has to be found.”

He quoted leading Muslim legal scholar Abdullah Ahmad an-Na’im who believed that a distinction should be made between state and politics.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, he noted, believes that Islam can be the mediating instrument between state and politics through the principles and institutions of constitutionalism and the protection of equal human rights of all citizens.

“Whatever the formula, we can only devise a system that rejects absolutism and tyranny and allows for freedom and plurality if we are able to first agree that discourse and dialogue is vital. Democracy and respect for the rights and dignity of all Malaysians is the prerequisite to this approach.”

Zaid stressed that the conflicts of jurisdiction in Malaysia require resolution.

The civil courts, he said, are “denuded of jurisdiction” to deal with matters that fall within the jurisdiction of the Syariah court.

“No court has been given the jurisdiction and power to resolve issues that may arise in both the Syariah courts and the civil courts. The present separation of jurisdictions presupposes that matters will fall nicely into one jurisdiction or the other.

However, human affairs are never that neat. What happens to the children of a marriage where one party converts to Islam and the other party seeks recourse in the civil court? Or when the Syariah Court pronounces that a deceased person was a Muslim despite his family contesting the conversion?

“Or where the receiver of a company is restrained from dealing with a property by a Syariah Court order arising out of a family dispute?

Where do the aggrieved parties go? I had suggested the establishment of the constitutional court, but that plea has fallen on deaf ears.”

Malays not under seige

The former minister had also touched on the use of draconian measures, which according to him have seen a marked increase in dealing with political and social tensions.

“Some people say that groups such as Hindraf (Hindu Rights Action Force) advocate violence and therefore this justifies the use of such measures. They may have overlooked the fact that violence begets violence.

“Was not the detention of Hindraf leaders under the ISA itself an act of aggression, especially to people who consider themselves marginalised and without recourse?

“It is time that the people running this country realise that we will not be able to resolve conflicts and differences peacefully if we ourselves do not value peaceful means in dealing with problems.”

Zaid argued that the situation had been aggravated by the absence of an even-handed approach in dealing with organisations such as Hindraf.

“While I applaud the prime minister for calling upon the Indian community to reject extremism, should not a similar call be made on the Malay community and (Malay daily) Utusan Malaysia?

I call on the prime minister, both the outgoing and the incoming, to deal with such issues fairly. Start by releasing the Hindraf leaders detained under the ISA. The release would create a window for constructive dialogue on underlying causes of resentment.

“I also appeal for the release of (Malaysia Today editor) Raja Petra (Kamarudin) from ISA detention. He is a champion of free speech. His writings, no matter how offensive they may be to some, cannot by any stretch of the imagination be seen as a threat to the national security of this country.”

The Malays, Zaid said, are now a clear majority in numbers and the fear of their being outnumbered is baseless.

“They are not under seige. The institutions of government are such that the Malays are effectively represented, and there is no way the interest of the Malays can be taken away other than through their own weakness and folly.”


Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)

Congrats, Zaid, You have acted In Good Faith: This is the beginning of the …
Posted in Democracy, Judiciary, Politics
« The Prime Minister and His Deputy must be made to face a Royal Commission of InquiryResponses
This speech of Zaid’s deserves to be heralded on every thinking person’s blog - it marks a watershed in the final unraveling of Umno because its only raison d’etre is “Ketuanan Melayu” - which actually serves only as a cover for corrupt & criminal misdeeds at all levels.

Karpal claims he has audio recording of what CJ said

KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 18, 2008) : DAP chairman Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor) says he is in possesion of an audio recording of what what Chief Justice Tan Sri Zaki Azmi said in Kuching, and subsequently reported by the New Straits Times (NST) on Nov 8 under the heading "Stop it now, corrupt court staff warned".

The report quoted Zaki as saying :"It took me six months to be nice, to bribe each and every individual to get back into their good books before our files were being attended to".

Zaki subsequently denied what was reported and a clarification was carried in the NST on Nov 9.

Zaki’s clarification, published in NST on Nov 9, said: "Your reporter must have interpreted what I said, which is during that period, there was corruption in order to get things done at the court registry, as I myself having done it. I have never in my life bribed or received any bribe."

Karpal urged Zaki to step down from the judiciary's top post for making the statement in Kuching, Sarawak on Nov 7.

"Rest assured, there is an audio recording of what Zaki said," said Karpal.

Karpal gave Zaki seven days to step down, failing which he will move a motion against Zaki under Article 127 of the Federal Constitution for having misled the country with his clarification.

He said he was speaking in his capacity as chairman of the parliamentary caucus on the Integrity and Independence of the Judiciary and urged members of the Barisan Nasional backbenchers club to forward the names of those interested in joining the caucus to make it more representative.


MY New Dawn said...

Lawyer takes 'second wife' to court
Saturday, 06 August 2005 11:46pm
©New Straits Times (Used by permission)
A. Hafiz Yatim

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 5: Three months ago, prominent lawyer Tan Sri Zaki Azmi (picture) took a second wife quietly in a ceremony in a textile shop in Perlis.

Both he and Nor Hayati Yahaya, 32, agreed to burn the original marriage certificate to hide the marriage from his first wife.

They also reached an agreement before the marriage that if the relationship soured, they would let each other go.

Nor Hayati told him: "If we cannot get along, you let me go. To this, he replied, 'Yes, but if I cannot get along with you, you let me go also.'

The relationship unravelled on July 10. After disagreements and a number of disturbing text messages, he divorced her on that day.

Since then, he alleged that he has received various threats from Nor Hayati. She allegedly demanded RM10 million and urged him to register their marriage. Failing which, she allegedly threatened to smear Zaki’s reputation.

The Umno disciplinary committee deputy chairman is now seeking a declaration from the Lower Syariah Court here that his second marriage is null and void.

Zaki, 60, is also seeking an order that Nor Hayati or her representatives are not allowed to trespass, disturb or threaten him on the matter including by using the mass media. Lower Syariah Court judge Mohd Zaim Mat Yudin today fixed Oct 4 as a mention date.

In his statement of claim filed on July 26, Zaki said that Nor Hayati and he were married in May this year in a ceremony presided by a kadi from Thailand.

After the ceremony, both the newly-weds signed a form, which was written in Jawi and Thai.

He sought legal advice after the divorce and was told that his marriage may not have been legal under the local Syarak and Syariah law.

The 59th Federal Territory Consultative meeting states that a marriage performed by a Thai kadi outside his jurisdiction in Thailand is considered void.

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MY New Dawn said...

Malaysia's CJ retires; successor not named
Thursday, 01 November 2007 07:49am
• Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz retires
• Rulers to discuss CJ’s position

©The Straits Times (Used by permission)
by Carolyn Hong, Malaysia Bureau Chief

Second most senior judge will be acting Chief Justice

IN KUALA LUMPUR - MALAYSIA'S beleaguered Chief Justice, Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, reaches retirement age today, with no word from the government on extension of his term.

Several months ago, he was said to have asked to be allowed to stay on for six more months.

He turns 66 today - the age of mandatory retirement for judges.

It is believed that his request for extension has not received the approval of the King, which is required under the Malaysian Constitution.

Under Malaysian law, the second most senior judge - Court of Appeal president Abdul Hamid Mohamad - will automatically assume the post of acting Chief Justice.

Datuk Abdul Hamid, 65, is said to be on the list of candidates slated to take over the top judicial post.

Sources say that the issue of the new Chief Justice is on the agenda of today's meeting of the country's nine hereditary rulers with Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi.

The Constitution requires the rulers' consent for judicial appointments.

The sultans, who normally do not rock the boat, collectively showed their strength earlier this year when they refused to endorse a government choice for the third most senior judicial post, the Chief Judge of Malaya.

This latest turn of events comes in the wake of a scandalous video clip released recently of a lawyer boasting on the phone that he could use his political connections to get judges promoted.

Tun Ahmad Fairuz has denied, through the de facto Law Minister Nazri Aziz, that he was on the other end of the line, but speculation continues to rage.

This saga has put intense pressure on the government to reform the system of making appointments to the Bench.

The Malaysian Bar Council, which represents 12,000 lawyers, also piled on the pressure by calling for a more transparent system of judicial appointments.

Just last Friday, a human rights lawyer handed the King a 5,000-signature petition calling for reforms.

Even Perak Sultan Azlan Shah joined the call for change - to widespread support from the legal fraternity - when he opened the Malaysian Law Conference on Monday.

The government's prolonged delay in making a decision on the succession to the top judicial post underlines the dilemma that it is in.

Its next move is being closely watched as a signal of its political will to institute reforms.

It thus came as a further blow when Tan Sri Zaki Azmi, said to be a candidate for the Chief Justice's post, came under attack in parliament on Tuesday for being Umno's former top legal adviser.

Parliamentary opposition leader Lim Kit Siang was quoted in the New Straits Times yesterday as saying that Tan Sri Zaki's appointment would be a prelude to him becoming 'Umno's Chief Justice'.

A former senior lawyer, Tan Sri Zaki, 62, was appointed a judge of Malaysia's apex court in September, the first person to be elevated directly to the highest court without having served as a judge in the lower courts.

The de facto Law Minister Nazri Aziz came to Tan Sri Zaki's defence in parliament, saying that the judge was only an ordinary Umno member who sat on the disciplinary committee.

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MY New Dawn said...

Wednesday September 5, 2007
Lawyer Zaki to be made Federal Court judge

Tan Sri Zaki: No stranger to life in the judiciary
KUALA LUMPUR: Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi will today become the first lawyer to be appointed directly to the Federal Court.

The only other lawyer to have bypassed the High Court in Malaysia was Justice Datuk Gopal Sri Ram, who was appointed directly to the Court of Appeal.

Both Zaki and Justice Gopal are members of Lincoln’s Inn.

According to sources, Zaki, 62, will

receive his letter of appointment as a Federal Court judge from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong today, along with the President of the Court of Appeal Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohamed and Chief Judge of Malaya Datuk Alauddin Mohd Sharif.

Several judicial commissioners are expected to be appointed High Court judges as well.

A consultant with legal firm Shahrizat Rashid & Lee since September last year, Zaki is no stranger to life in the judiciary; his father Tun Azmi Mohamed was Lord President from 1966 to 1974.

Zaki, who studied at Kolej Sultan Abdul Hamid in Alor Star, Anderson School in Ipoh and English College in Johor Baru, was called to the English Bar in 1969.

He served in various capacities in the Legal and Judicial Services before being called to the Malaysian Bar in December 1983.

As senior federal counsel from 1976 to 1984, he was in charge of all legal matters relating to the HomeMinistry, matters affecting the National Security Council and the Refugee Unit.

Zaki, who was appointed to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Police Force in 2004, has also served, among others, as Umno Disciplinary (Technical) Committee chairman and Umno Selection Committee secretary.

He is also a member of Umno’s Disciplinary Board Appeal panel, the Abandoned Housing Project Scheme and National Sports Council adviser.

Zaki, who is married to Puan Sri Nik Sazlina Mohd Zain, was also director of several companies, some of which are listed on Bursa Malaysia.

But he has resigned from all his memberships and company positions.

Bar Council chairman Ambiga Sreenevasan welcomed Zaki’s appointment, saying:

“Perhaps the recent negative publicity concerning the judiciary has prompted the move; this can be seen as another step taken towards strengthening the judiciary at the highest level, the first being the very welcome appointments of Justice Hamid and Justice Alauddin.”

But she said that because of Zaki’s association with Umno and the Government, there might be a perception he would be pro-government.

“This is a burden that he will have to bear and dispel but I have every confidence he will be able to discharge his duties well,” she added.

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