Malaysiakini Letter

DPP's removal: Public has right to know the truth

Steve Oh
Published:  |  Modified:

In another place where justice is beyond political interference, a case like Sodomy 1would never have existed let alone a serial Sodomy 2. That Anwar Ibrahim is seen as a victim of political conspiracy can’t be denied when even certain foreign governments still keep a close eye on the court proceedings and openly express their reservations and concerns. The latest scandal involving the key witness and protagonist in Sodomy 2 has resulted in the dismissal of the DPP engaged in the case.

Romantic liaisons that develop in professional situations are known to happen but in the case of Sodomy 2 where the future of a high-profile defendant like Anwar Ibrahim is at stake, any hint of a professionally and ethically illicit affair has to be taken seriously. If RPK had not blown the whistle, it is open to conjecture what might have happened. In fact what has already happened should worry the public, and especially the defendant.

As for RPK perhaps it is time we take him more seriously especially those who are responsible for upholding justice. It seems unfair to turn a patriot into a fugitive especially one who is only trying to help his country become a better place. The public has a right to know what happened in the DPP’s dismissal and the defence counsel is right in calling a mistrial. There is no need for the cloak-and-dagger stuff because justice thrives in the light of transparency. The truth never hurt a good cause and the innocent. The public has a right to know the truth.

There is high public interest in Sodomy 2. It is not only the defendant on trial but the whole country, in particular the judiciary. There have been some disturbing aspects in the case such as the accuser seeing a police officer and the country’s PM before making a police report. This lends the case to the criticism it may be politically contaminated. Then there is the troubling refusal of the court to grant the defendant and his legal team access to crucial statements made by the accuser to the police.

It seems to be a fundamental breach of Natural Justice 101 to deprive someone accused of a crime not to be able to know what he is being accused of and the alleged relevant circumstances. Even in Islam you need four witnesses. Justice must not only be done but be seen to be done is a well known maxim. And it is here that the incumbent administration is seen to falter. Its unwillingness to make the judiciary a highly respected and independent public institution by pursuing every avenue to reform it results in the decision of the country’s Chief Justice, Zaki Azmi, not to pursue the findings of the CJ Lingam video royal inquiry. Whither justice?

His reasoning that the CJ Lingam scandal dealt with the past and he is more concerned about the future does leave many Malaysians in total bewilderment. Is this the new guiding principle of responding to the findings of royal commissions? Should we close all the police stations because every reported crime is about the past? If everything that happened in the past should be forgotten life will be so much more expedient, more than dropping the C J Lingam scandal.

If judge-fixing has been found to be a problem, those who have allegedly contaminated the judiciary must not be allowed to go scot free.

Is that not why cruel dictators are still held to account for their crimes against humanity many many years after their evil deeds? It is utter nonsense to introduce a ‘past principle’ to close the Lingam video scandal because the judiciary exists to deal with the past. Justice is about judging past deeds good or bad, and making a proper judgement. What sort of precedent is being set? The role of a royal commission is to establish the truth and facilitate the bringing to account of those who are culpable and exonerating the innocent. We fail those in the commission who laboured to give us the truth by not building on their efforts.

The country is often criticised for its disturbing practice of selective prosecution, of dropping cases that should be pursued and pursuing cases that should be dropped. The Lingam video scandal is classic proof. According to the Malaysiakini report, ‘The royal commission of inquiry set up to probe the scandal subsequently recommended that former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad and five others, including Lingam, be investigated under various laws for their covert role in the appointment of judges.’

In the public interest and for justice’s sake if not the reputation of the judiciary itself, why can’t the proceedings of the royal commission be allowed to reach a natural and credible conclusion? Its abortion will only perpetuate the suspicions and allegations and undermine the judiciary’s integrity and credibility. Yet we see Anwar Ibrahim relentlessly hounded in Sodomy 2, another classic proof of this disturbing practice of selective prosecution, usually motivated by politics.

Surely there has to be greater respect for a royal commission and the rule of law which demands that justice must not only be done but be seen to be done. When you have certain people who seem above the law then justice is like another Penan rape victim who is left to cry in silent anguish.

When there are lingering doubts as to the purity of the judiciary and the contamination evidenced by the Lingam royal commission inquiry findings, it is utter nonsense to simply brush the commission’s recommendations aside. In the extreme, in this case which has widespread public interest, the CJ’s decision can be construed as a contempt for justice, even a disrespect for the function of a royal commission, an affront to every justice-minded Malaysian and I hope the learned judge, who should be passionate about justice and set the pace, will change his mind.

Since 1988 and after a public government apology and financial compensation, the ghost of political interference in the judiciary still haunts the corridors of justice that only a proper follow through with the royal commission’s recommendations may exorcise. What happened in the past to the country’s top judge is sufficient grounds for further investigations. If justice has not been done to the past how can anyone talk about the future. What future?

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