We have lived through the constitutional crisis in 1988, when judicial independence was stripped through constitutional amendments rammed through the Parliament by the BN two-third brute majority. We have lived through the Lingam Tape scandal before the 2008 general election. We have seen half-past-six attempt on judicial reform after the 2008 political tsunami. It is judicial business as usual, Malaysia style.
Even if Nizar gets his written judgement, and he appeals to the Federal Court against the decision of the Appellate Court, what do you think the final decision of the Apex court will be? You want to bet, even for a cup of coffee?
The immediate implication of the Appellate Court is quite appalling. It means that the Malay Rulers can now dismiss his Menteri Besar without a vote of no-confidence in the Perak State Assembly. All the Malay Rulers and the Governors of the states can do that. The Agong can now dismiss his Prime Minister in like fashion.
The decision gives the constitutional monarchs executive powers which are not given to them in the nation’s constitution! It changes the nature of Malaysia as a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy! In one fell swoop, the supremacy and the sovereignty of the people as symbolised by the institution of the elected state assembly has been sabotaged!
At least, I discuss the merits and demerits of the judgment passed by the justices sitting on the Appellate Court in that landmark decision yesterday. I have not embarked on an attack on their persons. I remember vaguely that to attack the person of the judge whose decision you do not like is tantamount to the crime of contempt of court. You can go to jail for it.
But when the decision of the Appellate Court was out on net new portals yesterday, when Malaysiakini was overloaded by a massive digital traffic jam, there was a spontaneous tsunami of outrage among Netizens in Malaysia. There was a sea of comments vilifying the judges sitting on the Appellate Court.
If the justices want to name these people for contempt of court, there will be insufficient jails in Malaysia to hold them all.
In a British traditional common law system, judges hold dear to the principle that the accused should not be unfairly judged by the court of public opinion. Is that why when a case is being heard, the media should not comment on the merits and the demerits of the case, for fear of influencing the judge? The case is said to be sub judice, or some Latin mumbo-jumbo like that. You lawyers out there can enlighten me.
In the court ruling yesterday, is the whole judiciary in Malaysia now trialled and judged by the court of public opinion in Malaysia?
If so, that would be a pity. It would show that – in public perception at least — the prestige, integrity, and independence of the judges yesterday and the entire judiciary have been greatly compromised. I am now dying to hear what former Justice Datuk NH Chan has to say about this turn of event.
Meanwhile, in an article entitled “Keputusan makamah Rayuan diatur?” (Appellate Court Decision Pre-arranged?) posted by Faqir Puteh on Husam Musa’s blog and linked by RPK’s Malaysia-today, the author has this to say (my English translation):
“My posting three days ago “predicted” that the Appellate Court would favour Zambry and that “prediction” has come true to-day.
“That was not a “prediction” but a piece of information. My follow-up information is that the Perak State Assembly will be dissolved soon, after the BN meeting once more on Monday or Tuesday,”
This chap Husam Musa is a PAS heavy weight, so we can assume that he would have all kinds of access to sensitive information gushing through the underbelly of party politics. Whether his information is correct or not, we will know within days.
But speculation has been rife that the BN might indeed decide to have a snap state general election in Perak. They might lose, and return Pakatan Rakyat to power with a bigger majority, as Dr. M had predicted.
But the worse evil is for the crisis to drag on, while the continuing court battle keeps national attention on the on-going crisis grinding Perak to a halt, giving PR the ammunition in their war on this BN publicity disaster.
Frankly, I do not see how the BN can drag on this farce without losing national support in the next general election. Husam Musa’s information is also collaborated by RPK’s personal prediction in his recent posting in Malaysia Today entitled Najib’s latest strategy: perception war:-
‘The only viable option open to Najib is to dissolve the Perak state assembly and hold new state elections. But that must not be on the opposition’s terms. That must be on UMNO’s terms. Zambry has to be declared the legitimate Menteri Besar of Perak (by the Appellate Court – editor) and then he shall seek permission from the Sultan for the dissolution of the state assembly. They can’t afford for Nizar to be the one who requests the dissolution of the state assembly. That would hurt Najib’s and UMNO’s image real bad.”
If this is what is going to happen, and a state general election is finally held, that would be fine. Let the best party and the best man win, fair and square. That would be what most Malaysians want to see anyway.
Meanwhile, the ruling by the Appellate Court yesterday has opened up unprecedented and dangerous interpretation of the constitution regarding the exercise of royal power of our monarchs. That may be a harder problem to fix.
SKY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org