Rule of law more fundamental than sub judice rule
LJ, in Murder trials: Sub judice rule may also apply before start is right, but I was never in doubt that Jacob George was not indeed referring to the question of sub judice in the upcoming trial of Razak Baginda.
The point to make, contra George, is that nobody in corrupt-to-the-core Malaysia is above the law, and that includes politicians, the entire legal fraternity and the police. The big question, however, is whether anybody trusts the Malaysian police to investigate their political masters.
But to LJ's point on sub judice. This is an ancient law. Nevertheless, one must question the value and place of this law in Malaysia where, on Jan 1, 1995, the Dr Mahathir Mohamad regime abolished jury trials throughout its courts system.
If there is no jury to decide in the Razak Baginda trial, which starts in March next year, what possible harm could current gossip and all manner of speculation and utterances, public or otherwise, have on the bearing and outcome of the trial? Could the presiding judge be so nave and inexperienced as to be swayed by such comments which, in all likelihood, would not usurp the function of the court?
There is no way current discussion in the public domain can or will have any real and definite tendency to interfere with the course of justice, and, thus, no chance of these being deemed contempt of court.
Sub judice is a silly law. It is banal in Malaysia. It has no relevance in Malaysia where there are no juries and where the administration of justice is highly political since, it is clear, most if not all judges and magistrates are in fact political appointees.
Further, if LJ thinks sub judice is so grand and propitious a law in Malaysia, he may want to reflect on a certain ex-premier, viz. Mahathir Mohamad. Not only did Mahathir cast all manner of aspersions on one Anwar Ibrahim well before court proceedings against the latter had begun, but he had virtually condemned Anwar to imprisonment, which the then High Court judge duly obliged even when all the evidence against Anwar was concocted and purely circumstantial.
Why did the judge not slap Mahathir and his pied-piper media with sub judice?
That was a political trial for, by and of Mahathir's beckoning. He lorded over Malaysia, lorded over Malaysia's legal system and the rest of Malaysia's legal fraternity. The sycophant mainstream media fell in behind him because they were too politically spineless and ethically bankrupt to stand up to Mahathir.
In the impending case against the bloggers Jeff Ooi and Ahiruddin Atan by the regime's lapdogs, attempts by the latter to use sub judice against the defendants to remove sections of blog entries deemed defamatory and could ultimately, they argue, prejudice their case against the duo, is entirely laughable, seriously ridiculous and utterly bizarre - but most unsurprising.
It is an attempt by the plaintiffs to coerce the defendants into submission Singapore-style. Who says Singapore does not provide Malaysia with a model of the repressive rule by law?
The administration of justice may be better served through a simple rule being that any evidence that an ordinary person would consider relevant to the case at hand should be allowed to be communicated whether in court or through the media.
More fundamental than the sub judice rule is the rule of law: the principle that the law should be clear and ascertainable, and that it should be applied without fear or favour across the board. A simple rule of relevance would uphold this fundamental principle, without undermining the administration of justice.
But even here questions of whether the true nature of the rule of law exists in Malaysia are far more relevant and important than sub judice.
Yet what is the relevance of such a law when juries have been abolished and the legal matters are judged by political appointees who are often seen by the public to do the bidding of their political masters and the establishment dominated by the regime's cronies?