Highest Court is the Court of Public Opinions. NOT

When Zaid Ibrahim was appointed as Minister in charge for judiciary reform, the Bar Council sighed in relief and glad that at last there is some light at the end of the tunnel for our judiciary system. Well, that’s good news to bar council members, judges and the people but not so good news for Zaid Ibrahim. As an introductory note from him, Zaid had suggested the BN government to issue a public apology to Salleh Abbas and other judges whom contracts were terminated not so long time ago, or to be exact when UMNO was in turmoil 20 years ago. Mahathir quickly replied with a very strong statement, somewhat expected of him, saying that what he did was according to the constitution and was legal. And Abdullah Badawi said there’s nothing to be apologized for from the government.

From a person who doesn’t read Law, neither Political science, it is a bit hard to comprehend, therefore some might say, don’t talk about this thing. Some may not see this but, the public is actually more powerful than the Chief Judge of Malaya. Well, quoting from self proclaimed PM-in-waiting, he said in one of his many speeches, everybody knows what Najib has done, what Abdullah and his dynasty has pocketed, in fact everything regarding the accusations of corruptions of power and money. And the crowd will go berserk in agreement, shouting this and that, as if justice has spoken and Najib, Abdullah and some other enemies of PM-in-waiting have been found guilty as hell, and of course the trial was done outside the compound of the court, in a political ceramah. That’s the beauty of our judiciary system, which left me wondering, what else need to be reformed about by Zaid Ibrahim.

Is our judiciary system really that tainted? Are all judges crooks? What about the lawyers? I remember my talkative sister once wanted to study Law but my mum tried her best to discourage her for the reason such as lawyers do ‘putar belit’ a lot and the idea of defending bad people against the consequences of his/her wrongdoings is just unthinkable. Well obviously not all lawyers are like that. I have friends who studied Law and they are the nicest you can get. But of course there are always room for doubt unless they can prove themselves beyond reasonable doubt that they are plain nice and kind.

Really the question is do we need judiciary system when the public is doing all the accusations, trials, jurisdictions and punishments? I reminisce the time when i was in secondary school, when a friend from dorm above ‘trespass’ into our dorm, the so-called ‘mahkamah rakyat’ will without any thought launch a pillow attack to oust that fella out. Of course lah that’s only for fun and just boys being boys. I laughed sometimes seeing that not-yet-found-guilty guy being treated as such. However, it’s no longer laughing matter when it comes to national issues. This practice of ‘mahkamah rakyat’ is not and must not be made embedded to Malaysian’s judgment and mind.

I agree with the idea of Judiciary reform, but it must start with people’s mindset. We should not allow any politicians (crooks) from government or oppositions to play the role as Attorney General, and influence the people in a way that favor his/herself, so that public mind can be directed in a way that public opinions is deemed higher than the real chief judge jurisdictions. In order to let the judiciary reform process run smoothly, let us not let this high court of public opinion interfere. Above all, justice is not done outside the court room, if justice is taken at hands of the people, we are no different than those terrorists who shot, slaughter, and bomb unjustly.

People’s power. I have stated about the role of the people in a government in my first ever writing in blogosphere which can be found here. It’s the people who put a leader in PM’s seat and likewise, it’s the people who also, can bring the PM down. Having said that, the practice of court of public opinion must be stopped and let the authorized person to deal with it. Therefore, no one is guilty until he/she is proven guilty beyond reasonable doubts (guilty as hell) and that statement must apply to all citizens. I think a had wandered too long in this alien area of knowledge of mine. I just think that ‘mahkamah rakyat’ may not help the country in long term. Go Judiciary reform.

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6 responses to “Highest Court is the Court of Public Opinions. NOT

  1. bro,

    its an interesting piece, this. you have brought up two important themes – public opinion and the Judiciary; and you have set out a strong tone – that the two should not intertwin.

    I completely agree with you that they should not mix lest law and the courts become a game of ‘popularity’ through public opinion. However, I think a debate on the Judiciary is very important…and here is why :

    1. That under our current law, members of the Judiciary are appointed SOLELY based on the prerogative of the Prime Minister.
    2. Public debate on this is challenging idea (1)
    3. Why are they challenging? We only need to visit the basic theory of governance to know why. Montesqieu provided the theory of trias politicas. The three pillars of a country are the executives ie cabinet ministers, the legislators ie parliament and the Judiciary ie judges. The idea is that the more separate these pillars are, the more democratic the country will become because these pillars will “check and balance” the powers of each other.
    4. Now, under our current system, the Prime Minister’s prerogative is not transparent; there is not any system of appointment. according to practice, the PM chooses based on the advice of the Chief Justice. However, since no system of choosing exists, this power is vulnerable to abuse.
    5. Hence, the idea of this reform is to ensure that people can scrutinise the choice of judges. Remember Tun M’s reply to the lawyer when he is asked why did he choose Tun Ahmad Fairuz – he simply said ” Its my prerogative ”
    6. With all these borne in mind, I dont think that the politicians are trying to play AG. If they would want to play AG, we would have heard debates on whether the case of Lina Joy was right or wrong, the case of that Mount Everest climber’s body was right or wrong etc.
    7. The most sensible rationale, to me, is to further strengthen the institutions of our country. First and foremost, the three pillars.
    8. I stand by my view that we have been blessed with some great leaders. But remember, if our country do not reform and strengthen its institutions but rather, depend and hope for good leaders, we are bound to be doomed sometime sooner or later.
    9. I leave you with a hypothetical situation : We can have 10 good leaders that take us to the greatest heights, but with weak institutions we need only 1 bad leader to destroy all the achievements that we have obtained.

    In Law, they say, ” Justice must not only be served, but must also be seen to be served”. This can only happen with three strong pillars. Note that i use capital J for the word judiciary. The institution itself SHOULD be stronger and bigger than the people.

  2. najmi nadzir

    kinda agree with Khai.. until the law is seen to be serving the people.. the Mahkamah Rakyat will always take over..

    and the maths will go on forever..no matter how rationale or developed we are.

  3. Thanks both of you,

    Khai’s comment worth an article on it’s own, well what more if you want to compare with my amateurish piece of writing.

    Judiciary, Executive, Legislative must be independent of each other, and the way things are happening now in Malaysia is looking very positive.

    20 years ago, UMNO got itself into trouble, and somewhat dragged judiciary institution together with it’s fall. But now, 20 years after 1988, UMNO got itself into trouble again, but has revitalised and put judiciary back on it’s track to become a more detached and independent institution.

    Let’s face the fact, politicians may differ in their ideologies, but when it comes to work, they have to work together especially when one of the main pillar of the country is concerned.

    Najmi’s idea is true provided that none of these three pillars funtioning in a country at any given time. My opinion is, if one can be a check and balance system for each other, the use of Mahkamah Rakyat will never be an option.

    The only direction we should be looking now is only straight ahead.

    Again many thanks to both of you and readers!

  4. Pingback: My article was published in Malaysiakini « ReminisceRespondRelax

  5. You have brought up a very weak argument and tried to emulate substance. In fact, every single thing is lacking and full of craps. You are in a very serious state of denial.

    You have admitted those three pillars must be independent for working democratic country but you miserably failed to see with your very eyes. The Linggam Tape has the summary and answers.

    You are still in your own world…please wake up and be resilient

  6. uncrowded,

    say what you want to say, for this is a free world. If you find it hard to get my point in the article, maybe due to my amateurish style of writing, my point is to put our trust in judiciary institution which is one of the three pillars of governance.

    Linggam tape provided no summary neither answers, but the royal commission investigating the tape did. And now suggestions made by royal commission in the report will be evaluated by AG. Everyone is innocent until proven otherwise. I concur to the process and eagerly waiting for the outcomes and finally the judge ruling.

    Let’s see it this way, i brought up a weak argument, brilliant people like you, and khai and najmi dropped by gave their pieces of mind. I learned a lot thru this give-and-take process. I consider myself still young and much more to be learned. I never denied i’m not as good as you, neither i say i’m well verse with federal constitution.

    I guess i tried to be as much neutral as possible, i expressed myself as a Malaysian who wants judiciary institution be independent.

    That’s why i support Judiciary Reform, just in case if you are still wondering.

    Thanks anyway for dropping by.