I have known Irene Fernandez and her family since about the 1960s. We were neighbours and I often say publicly "that we all, as kids, used to play marbles, rounders, and kites together." Those were the days before TVs and computers, when life was simple and great fun.
Therefore I know Rita, Josie, the late Leo, Irene ( photo ), Aigle, Jane and Robin; the entire Fernandez family. I even have a physical mark to show for the friendship, when I accidentally put my thumb into a live socket, as I was helping Rita change a bulb.
God was gracious in keeping me alive. They are an illustrious Malayalee Catholic family from Sungai Petani; well known for their many charitable works of ministry in the social sphere. They are even more known today; being at the forefront of many civil society initiatives and activities, whether in Penang or Perak or at the national level, within both Tenaganita and the Transparency International of Malaysia.
Now, why then is it that in this country justice bells do not ring for these Kedahans but does for others who are not even as deserving? Why is it that bright, energetic Kedahans who have the guts to say ‘no to corruption in various forms,' and who stand up for justice, truth and righteousness get labeled, abused and even traumatized?
I am sure we can all recall many Kedahans who fit this bill; and also the other bill of the privileged and upper class citizenry who are ‘above the law.' The foremost of then is none other than former Justice Syed Ahmad Idid. Why is it that the law in Malaysia sees with one or both eyes when necessary but chooses to close one or both eyes when it is equally it is requisite? Who pulls these necessity levers? I thought the Lady of Justice is meant to be blind.
These are the many questions that bother me; and therefore I signed the People's Parliament Petition to the Agong; to demand that the appointment of the next chief judge be done above board and based, not just of seniority but I would argue, with consideration of the past decisions and their sincerity to the original spirit of the federal constitution of Malaysia which Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak and Tun Hussein Onn died for.
I pray that a million Malaysians will sign the petition! Even Mahathir now says the silent majority must speak up for the good of the nation.
Therefore, I fully support Zaid Ibrahim, our current law minister, as he seeks to uphold and reinstate the supremacy of the federal constitution and the original spirit of Merdeka. Thereby, I also oppose all cabinet ministers; whether from Umno or any other party; who are blocking the genuine intentions of both Pak Lah and the law minister on this matter.
I appeal to Zaid Ibrahim, that he should be prepared to resign if necessary, if he disagrees with the noisy minority of cabinet (from Umno?) colleagues on this matter of national importance.
Zaid is very perceptive and so was Pak Lah in appointing Zaid via the back door into the cabinet. But, as a professional whom I have the highest of respect for to date, I think Zaid should not collude with the minority cabinet colleagues, but should rather resign if he cannot achieve his objective. That too will make a clear statement which is characteristic of him.
Therefore, if I speak for and agree on this matter with Haris Ibrahim, this single agenda becomes the highest priority of the civil society in Malaysia (by my definition, these are non-members of any political party but who form the majority of sincere, simple and honest Malaysians).
Our agenda is to ensure that the wrong people do not again become the chief judge, by the back door and with the already prevalent one eye culture applied.
Now back to the practice of "one-eyed justice in Malaysia." Why is Irene Fernandez being abused and her dignity to live as an ordinary person denied; because of the inefficiencies of the court system?
First, the magistrate left with only notes but which were not available. Then the files were lost. Then the files were found; but now it takes another few months to type because the computer got a virus.
With due respects to the government appointed Judicial Commissioner, who is only an ordinary government servant with a law degree and many years of service; sir, can you see the injustice happening in front of your very own eyes?
Why are you giving so much face to "incompetent, corrupt public servants who cannot do their job?"
If I am in charge of any set of ordinary files and they are lost, do I make the ordinary citizen suffer? Especially when we all know that Irene was charged during the height of the Executive Supremacy. Would it not make much more sense to "simply dismiss the case?"
Frankly, sir, I was the one who put the hand up in the public gallery at the May hearing, but you said that you are not obliged to entertain anyone from the public gallery? Maybe the law or the rules or court procedure do not allow it in your mind, but let me tell you that in the eyes of God, you will be judged by the Almighty for both; what you see with your one eye and what you choose to not see with the other eye!
As my teacher, Seyyed Hossein Nasr says, "a veil reveals as much as it hides." Even the PM has recognized that there are many indolent and incompetent public servants; otherwise why did he see it necessary to scold them for the first time, after almost five years in office.
There are many incompetent and corrupt public servants and they need to be weeded out; without favour or fear! Only then will justice roll in this country like a beautiful river streaming downhill quietly but calmly.
Choice of faith
Another disturbing case of injustice was the decision made by the Appeal Court 2-1 that "Lim Yoke Khoon had no right to appeal the decision of the lower court against the refusal to allow her to revert to the Christians faith because "the person named in the originating summons at the High Court no longer existed as she had changed her name to a Muslim name."
Are we serious or am I reading two wrongly worded newspaper reports.
"Are the majority judges saying that she ceases to exist as a citizen, and that her citizen's right as a Malaysian ceases when she became a Muslim?"
Does she then cease to be a Malaysian but not only a Muslim? Come on, what is happening in Malaysia? The stupidity of such arguments make me want to do law; but I am fearful as a famous lawyer once declared to me and my wife; you will never make it in law, because you do not have the killer instinct.
Really, what if I have the life instinct; to protect and preserve the God given dignity to every human person; without favour or fear?
The freedom of human choice is the singular and unique value that makes us human. If someone like Irene fought for this God-ordained human rights on behalf of the Bangladeshis, and then found out rampant corruption and abuse of authority existed within the public services and made a "whistle-blower report on the matter," do we have to charge her for some other stupid infringement? Is this not selective persecution? Why not then charge Mahathir for inciting racial sentiments in Johore Baru recently?
Why does our one-eyed prosecution system see no wrong in many obvious cases but only sees the dust in the other man's eyes; when it suits them? When the late Zakaria Mat Deros committed many public wrongs; no action was taken; both eyes of justice were closed. Why then use tooth-comb to search the haystack for the one needle and still not find it but instead they are not gracious enough to admit; that the era of fear is over.
All Malaysians can be simple and ordinary peace-loving Malaysians now. I think the problem is that ordinary Malaysians are ready, willing and able; but my greatest fear is the public and judicial services are still in severe denial and "telling and concocting lies is the way forward for them to cover their bottoms."
Therefore Mr Judicial Commissioner, if you postpone the case, even once more, I am going to declare myself as the friend of the court and seek legal means to give some expert witness arguments about the dignity of human beings, in not being harassed and hapless like sheep without a shepherd. Some of us do have a shepherd and we are proud to say so. May God help our judicial system to wake from their slumber.