The rot started under you, doc
Published on: Sunday, December 27, 2020
By: Selvaraja Somiah
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Dr Mahathir Bin Mohamad : Credit beltandroad.news
DR MAHATHIR wrote on his Chedet blog that the rule of law is no longer being applied in view of several high profile corruption cases dropped by prosecutors in recent months. Wonder where was the Rule of Law when he was in power? In fact the rot started during his 22-year premiership.

In the 1988 judicial crisis, Dr Mahathir intervened at the highest level by removing a Lord President of the Supreme Court. Where was the rule of law?

At that time, Dr Mahathir’s sacking of Tun Salleh Abbas, the then-chief judge, and other senior judges, was the start of the breakdown of constitutional checks and balance inherent in our parliamentary democracy. 

Dr Mahathir’s handpicked judges signaled the beginning of an era when the judiciary became enslaved to the executive branch. Since then, the executive has given short shrift to matters of accountability, governance and transparency in the judiciary.

In 1988, the independence of Malaysia’s judiciary was subjected to “a dramatic coup by the executive.” In what is widely considered to be the single biggest assault on Malaysia’s constitutional system and on the rule of law, five of the country’s top judges were suspended and three later removed from office. In addition, substantive changes were made to the constitution effectively emasculating the judiciary of its constitutional position as a check and balance to the government

Let me add a little more, and around the same time Tun Salleh Abas was charged, in 1986, Dr Mahathir as Home Minister cancelled the work permit of 2 Asian Wall Street Journal journalists in Malaysia. They brought the matter to the Court and the Supreme Court held that Dr Mahathir’s action was illegal and therefore invalid.

Dr Mahathir was so upset. Even in the TIME magazine (issue of 24.11.1986), Dr Mahathir expressed his displeasure. Contempt proceedings were brought against Dr Mahathir. 

Dr Mahathir escaped as the proceedings were dismissed by the Court. However, the learned Judge remarked in his judgment that Dr Mahathir confused at the doctrine of separation of powers.

It’s a joke to preach the values of democracy and rule of law when it was Dr Mahathir that was openly flouting them when he was in power. 

Under Dr Mahathir, so many cases involving connected politicians or his business associates involved in illegal activities were all swept under the carpet or classified No Further Action.

Even during his 2nd time as Prime Minister in 2018, several high profile criminal cases were dropped as well. Shafie Apdal was investigated with misconduct over RM1.5 billion in federal funds meant for kampong folks had his case closed by the AG and classified as No Further Action. 

This included the corruption trial involving his then Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and several sedition trials of other Pakatan Harapan politicians, including Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Deputy Minister Chong Chieng Jen and former Stampin MP Julian Tan for allegedly taking part in a Bersih 4 illegal assembly on Aug 20, 2015.

In Sabah, Dr Mahathir’s footprint was all over “Project IC” where dubious ICs were handed out to illegals in Sabah and entered them in the electoral rolls to bring down the PBS government. Where was the rule of law?

This shows the rot in Malaysia’s judicial system started during Mahathir’s 22-year premiership. 

Dr Mahathir should honestly look in the mirror and ask if he had poison the wells of democracy in Malaysia?

- Selvarajah is a blogger

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