Whilst the nation and the democratic world experiences a breath of fresh air with the recent event of Anwar Ibrahims's release by the Federal Court, I would urge everyone to exercise caution in their jubilant mood. There is a long and tortuous road ahead.
The spectacular return of judicial autonomy is welcome but one should remain sceptical unless it leads to a series of reasonable reforms. Only then can we state truly that there is a true reformation. Meanwhile, we should reserve our judgement.
I am stating this because even Anwar in his interviews felt the need to thank Pak Lah for his release with the implication that Pak Lah remains in control of the judiciary. An executive 'not interfering' with the judicial process in a single episode is not synonymous with 'will not interfere ever'.
How do we not know that Anwar's release had not been staged and carefully timed? I am interested to know why the judgments of the three learned judges had been 'reserved' at a previously important time when Anwar's worsening spinal compression problem had not been objectively evaluated (or so it had been made to appear).
If these judgements had been ready then, it would have been more pressing to let the man out for his medical treatment at that time.
It is refreshing to note that Anwar's wife, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, had made a statement that no deal had been struck as to his release. But was there an attempt to strike a deal and could this be linked to the sceanario above where the honorable judges had reserved their judgments?
I remain totally unconvinced (after all, the present administration is the same lot with just a few changes) that the executive has stopped manipulating the judiciary. They may be doing it less, that may be all.
Power corrupts - and absolute power corrupts absolutely. In governance (as in the armed forces tradition), one's respect should be for the office, not the person though the person could be either elected or appointed to that office.
So, a corrupt leader holding a respected office will likely demand respect when he is unable to completely hide his traits. A person's worth as a good leader is how people view him after he has left his office.
Anwar's release should be a strong signal for the judiciary to function as it should, to be bolder and to henceforth sever the chains and shackles attached to the Palais de Justice unless they know something to which the public is not privy to.
There are many opportunities as for example the impending trials of some Barisan Nasional members charged with corruption and perhaps the initiation of investigations into those who have abused their power in high office.