1988 judicial crisis - revisiting history of Salleh Abas' removal

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KINIGUIDE | In 1988, Malaysia’s highest court - the Supreme Court - was in turmoil. The head of the judiciary, Lord President Salleh Abas, was removed under troubling circumstances.

It has been described as the judiciary's darkest hour.

At the time, then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad was widely accused of executing a series of legislative changes that limited the powers of the judiciary and eventually, Salleh’s removal as head of the judiciary.

This matter has resurfaced many times over the past three decades, most recently after Mahathir, now the head of the opposition, apologised for his past misdeeds, albeit without specifics.

This prompted questions on whether the apology encompassed the events that took place in 1988.

Mahathir has denied having a hand in Salleh’s removal many times before and repeated it on Jan 3, saying that he did not have the authority to sack Salleh, and that it was the then Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Iskandar Sultan Ismail’s doing.

This instalment of KiniGuide will revisit, in brief, the events which took place preceding to Salleh’s removal and its impact on the judiciary today...