Sunday, November 24, 2013

Contempt judgement cast negative perception on judiciary

Dato Ibrahim Ali after serving his 1-day prison term and paying his RM20,000 penalty
Judges decisions and judgements cannot be questioned or debated openly in public or via the media. That is what contempt of court basically means.

That is the predicament Perkasa had to faced when Perkasa's webmaster and editor, Zainuddin Salleh singlehandedly wrote and publish an article on an impending judgement from Justice VT Singham in the RM50 million lawsuit by Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim against Utusan Malaysia on their portal on January 7th, 2013. [Read in The Star here.]

Contempt of court is seldom applied and usually judges ignore public comments. This is different but the judgement on Ibrahim and Perkasa cast a perception of ill intent and inconsistency.

Sometime back, the public were openly critical of judges applying contempt of court on comments made in and outside the court. It must have been the calls on judges by pro-government side, including Perkasa, to apply contempt of court. The argument was it is stifling freedom of expression and all that human rights mumbo jumbo.

Strangely, judges retrained themselves and tolerated it. However, that tolerance should end the moment it is formally expressed in writing. For anyone to cross that line, it is a case of memang cari pasal (looking for trouble). That was what happened to Perkasa.

However, the sentence dished out by Justice Dato' John Louis O'Hara is perceived by the some members of the public as inconsistent.

To clear any inqusitive minds, the judge is not Irish, but as told by sources, had same skin color, and sub-continent accent like Justice VT Singham and Rasiah Sivarasa.

He received his Datokship from Penang. [Read the Star here]

Zainuddin was doing an act of camarederie of one organisation to another organisation, in which both have been the target of DAP-led oppositions and neo-liberal faction in UMNO.

Utusan and Perkasa have been vocal and viewed by detractors as the last brave voices of 'Agenda Melayu'. Strangely, the Tun Abdullah faction, which introduced and popularise the term 'Agenda Melayu', are both  detractor of Perkasa and originator of the neo-liberal faction in UMNO today.

Neo-liberal see Parkasa as against their liberal and neo-colonialist globalisation leaning. On the same note, Pemuda which is leaning towards liberalism, is insecure with the presence of Perkasa as they are seen as taking over their role as pendesak.

DAP have been consistently attacking Perkasa to douse any revival of Agenda Melayu and seriously wanting to end any remnants of Malay nationalism ideology. However, true to their chinese chauvanist agenda, DAP openly and at times subtlely support Chinese chauvanist groups like Dong Zong, Suqiu, Huaren, etc.

PAS and Malay PKR attack on Perkasa have always been for their perceived close association with UMNO. Small in numbers but pockets of grassroot PAS and PKR members are also members of  Perkasa and view them as NGO playing the role to counter balacne.

The quiter and opportunist

It is the Melayu Liberal and deviant Muslims like Dato Zaid Ibrahim that have been critical of Perkasa. Zaid became a Minister under Pak Lah's administration but have since jumped ship to PKR, formed KITA and now in political wilderness.

Seen as an undisciplined spoilt child always wanting his ways and seeking attention, Zaid Ibrahim had been very strong in his criticism of Perkasa [read samples of his criticsm here, here and here].

With many UMNO members and supporters inside, Perkasa is well versed with the ways of Zaid. Both Zaid and Ibrahim Ali and quite a few in Perkasa had and have affiliation with Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, thus one can expect them to hit it back at Zaid where it hurts. [Read it here, here and here.]

When Zaid was in UMNO and at the times of Tun Dr Mahathir, he was quiet as mouse during the constututional crisis involving the rulers, judicial controversy involving Tun Salleh Abas and UMNO's dissolution.

It was Tengku Razaleigh and later Semangat 46, which Ibrahim Ali was a member, that were vocal on these issues. The reason was partly because they result di dnot come out in their favour.

While the Kelantanese were with Ku Li, Zaid was indifferent and happily making money through his firm, Zaid Ibrahim & Co.

He benefited from legal works related to government privatisations which came as bonus for their services as part of the team that defended UMNO in the lawsuit by Tengku Razaleigh faction in the late 80s showdown between Team A and Team B that eventually lead to the dissolution of UMNO.

Zaid became a member of Pak lah's cabinet as Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of law. In his attempt to be popular and endear himself instantly as hero to the legal community, Zaid tried to "solve" the judiciary crisis of the past by simply paying off the dismissed Federal Court judges.

He was not reforming the judiciary objectively but trying to bring about changes based on his simplistic understanding of happenings in the past and ignoring the facts. However, he was silence as a mouse when the alleged intervention on the judiciary happened.

Zaid with Anwar and Sivarasa
Typical of Zaid, when his bizarre and drastic plans were rejected, he coped out.

Subsequently, he joined opposition PKR, lost at Hulu Selangor by-election and aspire to be PKR Deputy President instantly. He lost to polling manipulation by Azmin. Anyway, his political misadventures are another matter.

He became popular with judges, lawyers and certain foreign government.

His attempt to reform the judiciary system to be, in his perception, more transparent, fair and just was also a failure. The judiciary system deteriorated further. .

These days lawyers are heard to complain that judges are politically bias and making decisions based on political reasoning, rather than legal facts and precedents. Judges and prosecutors seemed to easily succumbed under political pressure and make judgement which are blatantly non-sensical and gutless.

These days they say, they as in those in the legal profession, judges are openly fraternising with lawyers. If judges are being accused of siding and being co-hort with government lawyers in the past, same sources say they are openly in-cohort with opposition party and fringe groups lawyers.

However, these groups still claim the judiciary system stinks and quick to blame policians and anyone in favour with the establishments to camouflage their control of the judiciary system. It is convenient political tool whenever there are unfavourable judgements against them.

The public should realise that as much as liberal complained of conservatives, pro-establishments, islamists, etc. have closed mind, the liberals in this country are not liberals in the true sense of the word. Be they in UMNO or PAS or fringe NGOs or PKR/DAP, Malaysian liberals are not open to criticism and apply strong arm to quietened critics too!

Nothing specific is mentioned so there is no issue of this viewpoint being contemptous of the court.

Returning to the cases, Justice VT Singham decided in Anwar's favour to order Utusan to pay RM45,000 for two articles deemed defamatory for his comments to BBC on homosexuality laws. It is not RM100 million.

Hopefully NST management will understand and take it positively the reasons they were practically dubbed as "chicken shit coward". [Read here and here.]

Ibrahim Ali was sentenced to one day prison and pay a penalty of RM20,000 by Justice John Louis O'Hara. As for the article writer, he was taken to Kajang Prison to serve his 30 days prison sentence.

The last heard both are making appeals and it is not known what is being appealed and their legal basis to appeal. One would expect Zainuddin, who days ago had just returned, would surely like to have his sentence postphoned.

Ibrahim would like to save his political and activism career. The one day prison sentence and penalty sum would disqualify Ibrahim from assuming any public office, including being a wakil rakyat; whether as MP or State Assemblymen or Senator,  Directorship in any company, and positions in any NGO.

As someone who does not have an email or if he does, someone else operates the e-mail, Ibrahim would be the least likely to know of Zainuddin's article on Perkasa's portal. It seemed it had been there for quite a while.

Furthermore, it was reported that Ibrahim Ali mentioned the Perkasa portal is registered under Zainuddin and he is the webmaster and editor. But, of all the person, why did Sivarasa made the complain specifically on Ibrahim?

By right, he should made the complain against all the Ahli Dewan Tertinggi Perkasa, who are jointly and severally are responsible for any actions and reactions of Perkasa.

Ibrahim was singled out by Anwar's lawyer. This is in poor taste and sets a bad precedent.

Politicians do sue each other and the media but seldom it is an all out effort to obliterate the other side to the point of ending their political career and make the loser bankrupt.

Such examples are ample and the recent one being Raja Dato Nong Chik vs Nurul Izzah, Dato Shahrizat vs Rafizi Ramli and Zuraidah Kamaruddin, and expect the same for FGV vs Wan Azizah.

For detractors of Perkasa and anti-establishment elements, they will say it is fair because they loath Ibrahim and Perkasa and would like to see the demise of both. For some of those 'atas pagar' and pro-establishment, they see the sentence, and perhaps the judgement also, as inconsistent.

Four years ago, a handphone salemen from Ranau, Sabah had insulted Sultan of Perak in his blog. Most likely, it has something to do with the 2009 change of government in Perak from the three assemblymen that jump out of Pakatan Rakyat.

Court penalised him for RM15,000 and in default eight months prison. [Read the Star here.]

To the simple logic of the man-on-the-street, the sentence to to insult judges is stiffer than insulting rulers. If judges are sensitive to political psywar and perception play, then they should take this into account.

A representative of the Attorney General Office was present in court when sentence was dished out to Ibrahim and Zainuddin. The court had invited the Attorney general but since unable to come, he had sent a representative.

In court, the representative seek the judge for a stiff sentence. However, the Attorney General did not drag Anwar Ibrahim to court for the multiple contempt of court acts in and outside the courts.

In court during the Saiful Bohari sodomy trial,  Anwar openly accused the judge as bias in favour of government. This insult happened right in front of the judge and row of lawyers from the Attorney General office.

He went around the country to question the courts decisions and prosecutor, as officer of the court, words in his ceramah.

In February 2012, an Imam and PAS's green army, Hoslan Hussein threw a shoe at a judge and loudly slurred "kehakiman negara sudah rosak" in court.

The former Al Arqam member lost in his appeal at the Court of Appeal to put aside MAIWP order to vacate the Imam quarter. [Read here in Malaysiakini]

Attorney General went after him seriously and managed to send him to Kajang Prison for a year but when it is not politically suitable and they are scared, they refrain from charging Anwar.

There have been hundreds of police reports made on contempt of court offenses by opposition and leftist leaning activists filed by Perkasa and other NGOs and coalition groups. Till today, most of the reportts seemed to lose in transit, either in the midst of investigation or probably KIV at the AG office.   

By this simple examples and logic, man-on-the-street would see this as outright selective prosecution. That is the reason Gani gets no supporters from groups like Perkasa when he is unfairly accused.

Whether it is a case of Anwar being invincible or judges are above rulers, or Attorney General playing politics and chicken out, the public does not and normally not able to know the past judgements, rationale and possible leanings of O'Hara, Singham or Gani.

The negative perception that will play into their minds are that judges are not only impartial and unbias, but also too friendly with opposition to become their tool. No intention to insult the court or judiciary at large, just saying what is being talked about.

* Edited 11:45 PM, 3:00 PM


Anonymous said...

justice john o'hara is neither black nor irish. he is a person of mixed parentage and a muslim.

Anonymous said...

If you are a Malay, do not questioned the judges but if you Chinese or Indian than it is ok.
Better still if you are from DAP or PKR than you are untouchable!

Hidup Hidup
Hidup Najib

Anonymous said...

Are u accusing Justice O'Hara of consuming alcohol?

Your treading on very fine ice ...

Anonymous said...

The pendulum swings far and wide, from one extremity to the other. Once it was said the executive control the judiciary. Now, its said the judges fraternising with the oppositions. What we want is a consistent, reliable and predictable judiciary so we can go about our daily business within the law and acccording to the 'rule of law'. Otherwise the law is an ass going uphill in reverse gear!

Anonymous said...

If Malays feel that they are victimised in Malaysia, then I do not know what to say...

Maybe u should try to get a Govt that supports Malay rights. Our family has long split from the Malay country, where you claim that Malays are victimised.

Anonymous said...

Kesian ibrahim ali. Semoga mereka yg menganiaya beliau mendapat ganjaran setimpal.

Anonymous said...

Kesian ibrahim ali. Semoga mereka yg menganiaya beliau mendapat ganjaran setimpal.

Anonymous said...

High Court judge Datuk John Louis O'Hara awarded each plaintiff RM10,000 in general damages. He also awarded costs of RM60,000.

The six were R. Sivarasa, N. Surendran, Latheefa Koya, Eric Paulsen, Amer Hamzah Arshad and Johny Andu @ Abu Bakar Adnan.

What more can we say? The court is their playground.

My Say