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A judicial commission now more than ever

I refer to the Malaysiakini report Video links CJ to 'judicial fixing' scandal. This is a story of ambition that is, if the goings-on in the video clip are authenticated.

Everyone tries to whisper in the ears of the prime minister who dispenses patronage as what VK Lingam purportedly said in the video clip , 'Being the old man, he is 76 years old, he gets whispers everywhere, and then you don't whisper, he gets taken away by the other side'. Even Lingam will surely know the advantage of being an intermediary power broker (far better than being just a diligent lawyer), to be able to help and procure favours in exchange for the same in the future.

It is the way the world operates, more so than ever here, and this might well have been going on not only in relation to judicial appointments but for just about every other appointment of value that the eligible vie and compete for and requiring the assistance of a power broker to 'access' the PM.

All attempts to further one's own ambitions are natural and they ought to be understandable or even permissible subject to one overarching qualification and caveat that the climb upwards, though depriving others of an equal opportunity to compete on fair basis - should not, bottom line, be on the back of the rakyat.

Here we are speaking of appointments in an institution like the judiciary that is the arbiter of all disputes and the dispenser of all justice in a society.

Without fair referees by way of judges, how can those whose liberty is imperiled get reprieve; how can those who have suffered their reputation maligned or property damaged or jailed wrongfully obtain fair redress? How could the individual's rights be protected against the encroachment of government if an impartial judiciary, not compromised by power, does not seek to stand in-between as a bulwark?

Therein lies the importance of having an institution of judiciary that is fearless, independent and impartial. It must not only be so but also seen to be so. Confidence of the public in it as a fair arbiter of impeccable integrity is a prerequisite. We should not muck around or tinker with such an institution.

Don't just blame the judge or the intermediate legal broker (if contents of this video clip are authenticated) Dr Mahathir Mohamad as paramount leader should bear responsibility for the tone he set during his tenure as PM for the kind of the 'I scratch your back and you mine' culture that has evolved.

And all because of that man's ambition was to make all those around him suppliant and cooperative. As PM, personal loyalty to him from all quarters, especially the judiciary, was imperative. The institutions be damned, he knew better what would be right!

That good judges of integrity like Lord President Salleh Abas, Abdoolcader Eusoffe, George Seah, etc, have been replaced by small men who have nothing to show but just ambition, sycophancy and blind loyalty to the executive is a measure of how things have taken a turn for the worse in the country.

Such men will not care two hoots about principles or anything else except their positions and anything to buttress it by further getting other people of big ambition but small minds and twisted principles to surround them all to our collective detriment.

What the nation has to do is to have an institution like an independent judicial commission comprising people of noted integrity to recommend judicial appointments - this cannot be left to one or two powerful men and the deliberations of their ambitions.