Monday, November 10, 2008

Tun Salleh was indeed dismissed

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz should do his homework before stating that former Lord President (Chief Justice of the Federal Court), Tun Salleh Abas was not sacked but advised to retire. .

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, then prime minister, correctly said that the judges were dismissed as recommended by the Tribunal appointed pursuant to the Constitution of Malaysia by the Yang di Pertuan Agong (King).

After their dismissal which rocked the nation temporarily, the then Lord President Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Omar (later Tun) received a letter dated 13 February 1989 from the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) Secretary-General Niall MacDermot.

MacDermot wrote to inform Hamid that at a meeting of the Members of the ICJ held in Caracas, Venezuela, on 16 - 21 January 1989, the Commission unanimously adopted a resolution with the support of representatives of its National sections and Affiliated Organisations on the Malaysian judicial crisis.

Among others, the resolution resolved:- "To EXPRESS its grave concern about the removal from office of the former Lord President of Malaysia (Tun Salleh bin Abas) and two other Judges of the Supreme Court of that country namely Tan Sri Wan Sulaiman and Datuk George Siah, as well as the earlier suspension of Judges of that Court."

Similarly, in a letter dated 23 February 1989 the then President of the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court Sydney, Michael Kirby, in his capacity as a Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists wrote to Hamid seeking answers to events which accompanied the dismissal of Tun Salleh and the two judges.

He wrote: "A great deal of concern is felt amongst the Judges and lawyers of Australia about the removal from office of your predecessor and the manner by which you secured office in succession to him."

The Malaysian Bar Council also commented in a press statement released on 17 June 1988 by its then vice-president S. Theivanthiran which stated that "The Bar Council is gravely concerned at the damaged done to the impartial administration of justice and to public confidence in the administration of justice as a result of the steps taken to remove the head of the judiciary following upon a series of attacks on the judiciary by the Prime Minister after the delivery of judgements displeasing to the Executive."

The words used - removal and remove - meaning to dismiss and not as claimed by Nazri, the de-facto law minister.

However, the Mahathir administration was kind enough to approve pension payments to the judges concerned although, normally, it would not. Unfortunately, similar kindness was not extended to former High Court judge, Dato' Syed Ahmad Idid, who (anonymously) exposed corruption and wrongdoings in the judiciary and was forced to resign.

Like most of us, I am not aware that the judges were paid pensions handsomely and am disappointed that Tun Salleh said nothing about it until it was disclosed by a third party. And we are talking about transparency and honesty.

It is game, set and match to the judges, if I may say so.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bukan sahaja wartawan kena check fakta. Ahli parlimen juga.