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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A big black dog and two squirrels

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A big black and ferocious dog was about to devour a small squirrel. The end was near for the poor squirrel.

Who would stand up against that dog? The squirrel's mother/friend/relative? Wouldn't the one trying to help be also devoured by the black dog?

What chance does the small squiggly squirrel have against the might of the ferocious black dog?

But the small one was not about to yield to the badness of the dog. He was not about to squirm on the tree in safety while looking at his friend/relative/baby being chewed up as dinner by the black dog.

No.

The small one was not wrapped in apathy, fear and total self-pity like some cry babies who whine and whine and whine but do nothing to protect their rights from being eroded. The small one was going to stand up and be counted. The small one was going to use whatever it has to fight. It was not going to sit idle looking at the dog devouring one of its own.

The small one was going to fight.

With one small leap the small one jumped. It landed on the dog's head and chewed its ear.

The big black dog was stunned. It never thought the small squiggly one would dare attack. It overestimated its might and power. And it underestimated the resolve of the small one.

The dog was helpless to do anything. The small one had attacked the dog at its most vulnerable area. The dog had no choice but to yield.

And watch the two small ones escape to safety.

The dog was humbled.

What is the moral of the story, Ladies and Gentlemen?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Shamala and the skirt of technicalities

Are you surprised? Well, I am not. The Federal Court rarely surprises me nowadays.

Take the decision of the Federal Court in Diana Nelson Tanoja v PP [2010] 3 CLJ 1, for example. In this case, the Federal Court - the highest Court in the whole land - in all its wisdom, held that in Malaysia, under our law, the Court can decide a criminal case on its own without hearing legal arguments at the close of the defence case. And this was a case which attracted the death sentence, no less. (A well written criticism of this case can be read at  LoyarBurok).

Malaysia must then be the only country in the Commonwealth where the Court is not obliged to hear legal arguments (or, in legal jargon, submissions) before deciding to convict or acquit an accused person!

Meanwhile, the recent Federal Court decision in the Shamala case is not the first time the Federal Court had chosen not to rule on an issue which is important to the nation, such issue having far reaching consequences to the society at large.

I have lost count of the number of cases which involve  inter-faith conflicts arising from conversion and re-conversion of a person from one faith to another - often from one faith to Islam and back to the original faith -where the Federal Court had chosen not to make a ruling, preferring to dismiss the case on technicalities instead.

These inter-faith conflicts often take place in marital or inheritance disputes although disputes involving burial rites are also proving to be on the rise lately. Although these disputes may sound personal in nature, the  repercussions and ramifications from such disputes, and the way they are resolved, bring with them wider and deeper societal impact. At the rate we are going and looking at the way we are handling these issues, it is clear that a time bomb is waiting to explode on this front.

Malaysia is a country where even the Constitution itself defines ethnicity. And as if to muddle it further, even the concept of Malay-ness in the Constitution is tied up to a particular faith, namely, Islam. To further spice things up, there are claims from our leaders and layman alike that citizens of certain ethnicity possess and enjoy "special rights."

Such is the situation here. It does not take a legal expert to note that different faith and ethnicity in Malaysia bring with it different legal dynamics, in terms of  personal laws, particularly concerning inheritance, matrimonial  disputes and child custody.

What is worrying to me is not the fact that such disputes are taking place. In a multi-ethnic-faith-culture country such as ours, the existence of such disputes is only to be expected. The disconcerting fact is that we seem to be unable, unwilling and unprepared   to properly deal with such disputes in a just and fair manner, in accordance with the laws of this country.

What is even more worrying is the political nuances which such disputes bring and the fact that such disputes are being handled as political hot-potatoes rather than what they are and should be, namely, personal and legal disputes.

During the hearing of the Shamala case in the Federal Court, I am made to understand that one of the learned Judge asked the Counsel whether this issue is of  social or political nature. With respect, why would the Court want to know from the Counsel whether the case is of political nature or otherwise?

The Shamala case involves a referral to the Federal Court by the Court of Appeal. The referral was made by the Court of Appeal BY CONSENT of all the parties involved. When the Court of Appeal was considering to make the referral, all parties CONSENTED to the referral being made. Purging of Shamala's alleged contempt was not raised at all at that time.

The referral involves the following questions, which were to be answered by the Federal Court, namely:-

  • 1. Whether Section 95 (b) of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993 is ultra vires (beyond the powers) of Article 12 (4) of the federal constitution (specifically concerning the right to determine the religion of the children under the age of 18 shall be determined by the parent or guardian) and Article 8 regarding equality rights;

    2. Whether the same section in state law is inconsistent with federal law namely Section 5(1) of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1961, and is therefore invalid;

    3. Regarding Article 121 (1A) of the federal constitution, where a custody order for children is made, which court, between the Syariah Court or the High Court, is the higher authority?

    4. When there is conversion of children of a civil marriage to Islam by one parent without the consent of the other, are the rights of remedies for the non-Muslim parent vested in the High Court?

    5. Does the Syariah Court have jurisdiction to determine the validity of conversion of a minor into Islam, once it had been registered by the Registrar of Muallafs (Registrar for newly-converted Muslims)?

The questions, as framed, consist of important Constitutional issues. The ruling by the Federal Court on such questions carry far reaching consequences on Malaysia as a whole, as opposed to only Shamala, her kids and her husband.

Is it not obvious from the questions as framed that the referral was not about the personal life of Shamala, her kids and her husband alone? Is everybody within the corridors of the law well appraised of the differences between an order in personam and an order in rem, what they mean and the effect of the two? Or do I need to spell that out?

Well, just in case. An order in personam just binds the party to a case. In contrast, an order in rem binds the whole world. Any ruling by the Federal Court in the Shamala case would bind the whole world as the ruling would affect Shamala's marriage, the status of the children's faith, the husband's right and his children's choice of faith and many more matters.

It is, in my view, from this perspective that the Shamala case ought, with respect, to have been approached as opposed to the narrow approach taken by the Federal Court in its decision.

The Federal Court refused to entertain the referral apparently because Shamala was in contempt for breaching a High Court order which required her to bring her children to Malaysia. Essentially, the Federal Court was of the opinion that Shamala was not entitled to pursue her Constitutional referral to the Federal Court because she was in contempt. (The full speech of the Federal Court can be obtained from here.)

With respect I take issue with some aspects of the decision.

First and foremost, the referral was made by consent of all parties in the Court of Appeal. Granted, no Court could be seized of jurisdiction by consent of parties. But in the Shamala case, jurisdiction was never an issue. If all the parties had consented to the referral being made to the Federal Court on the Constitutional issues, what right was there to object to the referral on the basis of contempt? Why wasn't the contempt issue raised at the Court of Appeal? In that situation, what right did the Federal Court has to focus on the contempt issue instead of the merit of the referral?

Secondly, was there a contempt order against Shamala? None! There was no finding that she was in contempt. Why then and on what basis must the Federal Court embarked on the issue of contempt as if it was established that Shamala was in contempt?

In this respect, the learned Judge in Dr. Madan Gopal Gupta vs The Agra University And Ors. AIR 1974 All 39 observed,

"In my opinion a party in contempt purged its contempt by obeying the orders of the Court or by undergoing the penalty imposed by the Court. The present case, no order of conviction was passed against the respondents."

Similarly, is it not part of our fundamental justice principle that a person cannot be condemned until he or she has been fairly heard?

Thirdly, the true legal principle which requires a person in contempt to first purge his or her contempt before being allowed to proceed in a matter must be closely looked at. With respect, I submit that the Federal Court had misapplied the law.

The Federal Court referred to the case of Hadkinson v. Hadkinson, (1952) 2 All ER 567 in its decision. That is the locus clasicus. A closer look at the judgment of Lord Denning in that case would be helpful to understand the true ambit of the principle involved. Lord Denning said:

"Those cases seem to me to point the way to the modern rule. It is a strong thing for a Court to refuse to hear a party to a cause and it is only to be justified by grave considerations of public policy. It is a step which a Court will only take when the contempt itself impedes the course of justice and there is no other effective means of securing his compliance. In this regard I would like to refer what Sir George Jessel, M. R. said in a similar connection in Ree Clements & Costa Rica Republic v. Erlanger. (1877) 46 LJ Ch 375.

"I have myself had on many occasions to consider this jurisdiction and I have always thought that necessary though it be, it is necessary only in a sense in which extreme measures are sometimes necessary to preserve men's rights, that is, if no other pertinent remedy can be found. Probably that will be discovered after consideration to be the true measure of the exercise of the jurisdiction." (emphasis are mine).

Four things are clear. Firstly, to not allow a person to pursue a matter on the basis of his or her contempt is a "strong thing" and  an "extreme measure." Secondly, the principle is only justified by "grave considerations of public policy."

Thirdly, the Court would only disallow the person from pursuing a matter in Court on the ground of his or her contempt if the contempt impedes the course of justice. On this, Halsburry's Laws of England, Simond's edition, page 42, paragraph 73 says,

"Even the plaintiff in contempt has been allowed to prosecute his action when the defendant had not applied to stay the proceedings. Probably the true rule is that the party in contempt will not be heard only on those occasions when his contempt impedes the course of justice and there is no other effective way of enforcing his obedience?" (quoted from Dr. Madan Gopal Gupta vs The Agra University And Ors. AIR 1974 All 39).

Fourthly, the Court would do so if no other remedy can be found.

Let us examine whether Shamala's alleged contempt impeded the course of justice. The referral to the Federal Court was on Constitutional issues. Any ruling on those issues would amount to an order in rem, which is an order binding the whole world and not only Shamala and her husband.

The ruling on those issues would also bind Shamala's children. Their rights to profess and practice a certain faith of their choice would have been determined by the Federal Court. The ruling would also give precedents to all other cases and would bind all other children and their parents as well as Government agencies such as JAKIM and others.

The ruling will put to  closure all the inter-faith conflicts and the incidental personal laws issues arising from such conflicts.

Now, how does Shamala's act in taking away the children from Malaysia impede justice in the referral to the Federal Court? I can't see how.

Granted, the facts in Hadkinson v Hadkinson are almost similar to the facts in Shamala's case. In the Hadkinson's case, the wife has taken away the child to Australia when there was an order requiring the child to be in the UK. Shamala has also taken the kids to Australia against a Court order.

But the similarity ends there. The Federal Court had failed to observe a distinct and very important difference between the facts in the Hadkinson case and Shamala's case.

In Hadkinson's, the wife/mother, married again and took away the child unprovoked and without any extenuating reasons. To the contrary, Shamala was forced to defend her children's Constitutional rights to choose their faith and also her own Constitutional rights to her children and as a parent because of her husband's conversion to Islam as well as her husband's act in converting the children to Islam.

That was a clear distinction. The Federal Court, with respect, failed to recognise, let alone appreciate, that distinguishing factor.

Granted, the legal principle disallows a person from coming to Court if he or she has committed contempt and had not purged the contempt. But the same principle does not disallow that person from defending a suit against him or her.

In Sudhir Chandra v. Raseswari Chowdhurani, AIR 1929 Cal 117, it was held that a defendant in contempt cannot claim as of right the benefit of the procedure of the Court except for the sole purpose of defending himself, and how far, these rights extend was a matter for the discretion of the Court. Though the party cannot himself come into the Court to take any advantage of the proceedings in the cause yet he was entitled to appear and resist any proceeding against him. (quoted from Dr. Madan Gopal Gupta vs The Agra University And Ors. AIR 1974 All 39).

Isn't it clear from the Shamala's case that although she was the one who initiated the proceeding, she was in fact and in law a person who was just defending herself and her children from the husband's acts? To put it in another way, Shamala was forced to come to Court to defend her rights and the rights of her children. Surely then the principle disallowing her from pursuing the case does not apply.

With respect, again, the Federal Court had failed to observe and appreciate the circumstances under which the case and referral were initiated by Shamala.

To me, the most striking factor which the Federal Court had so miserably failed to take into consideration in the Shamala's case is the public factor. The Federal Court had almost forgotten that what was before it was not an action in personam or an action which affects only the personal rights of the litigants.

Shamala's case was an action in rem, which would, if determined, result in an order in rem. The referral was on Constitutional issues, which, given the current societal and political climate in this country, greatly impact the society as a whole. Justice and fairness demanded in this referral would not be for the benefit of Shamala, her husband and their kids alone. It is for the benefit of the whole country.

With respect, the decision in Shamala's case represents the triumph of technicalities over justice and fairness. And that is, with regret, a really sad state.

Friday, November 19, 2010

"K" for "kelam kabut"?

Zaid Ibrahim's short-lived love affair with PKR is a reminder to all of us of many things.

First and foremost, I do not think for a moment that PKR's "one member one vote" system was well thought out, in terms of planning, management and implementation. It was a good idea and I am sure it was laced with good intention. But we have seen that good intention alone does not make an act good. Take the New Economic Policy as a prime example. Need I say more?

It must have been thought that UMNO's delegation system was too feudal in its outlook. Then it would not have escaped PKR's top echelon - as Anwar Ibrahim himself was a hot shot in UMNO - that the UMNO's delegation system was and is still in fact a fertile ground for abuse and corruption, as well as an incontrovertible proof that UMNO's top-down leadership is almost as feudal as it comes, making a mockery of modern democracy anchored to the will of the vastness of the real people, as opposed to elected agents and delegates.

And so PKR had to be different. All members must have the power to choose their leaders. To that end, it was well intent. However, unfortunately, how that end was to be achieved was a different matter altogether.

From the riotous and almost farcical party election that PKR is now going through, I doubt whether the intended end is achieved. When records show about 80 people in attendance and yet about 800 people voting, surely PKR could expect dissent and resentment from the candidates vying for posts. That is only to be expected.

To top it up, when party outsiders such as Haris Ibrahim could produce ballot papers issued for the party elections, one wonders whether Roy Hodgson is in charge of the ballot papers in PKR. Additionally, the low turn out for the elections has put the whole election in a really bad spotlight.

Secondly, the power play which underlies the political dynamics which results in Zaid's departure from PKR leaves a really bad aftertaste to Malaysians who were, up till recently, pinning their hope for a strong PKR showing in the next general election. A lot have been said by Zaid, his supporters and detractors as well as his opponents and even Anwar Ibrahim himself.

To the Malaysian public, these dynamics are not relevant nor significant. The average Malaysian voters are not appraised of these things. There will be Malaysian voters who want change. And from these change-seeking voters, some may see PKR as an alternative. Some others may remain hopeful that PKR would be a viable alternative.

The obvious question is how would this fiasco affect their thinking and perception of PKR. Would they now still see PKR as a viable alternative? Would they remain hopeful as such? How about the new-aged voters, namely the current crop of young cyber/iPhone/iPod/iPad-era voters who, despite their affliction for Lady Gaga and Adam Lambert, are more politically aware then we even care to give them credit for?

What will they think about PKR now?

I don't know about how they feel and think. But frankly, in my perception, PKR is so full of crap then it would even dare to admit. And if the farce that PKR calls and labels as party elections is to be a yardstick of its ability to govern this country, I would rather vote for the Siberian Husky in front of my house. And by that, I don't mean to insult the dog.

Thirdly, all of us would begin to wonder what will happen to Zaid after this. He was disciplined by UMNO before. Despite that, he became a Minister. A de facto law Minister at that. His push for reform saw him resigning in protest. He then left UMNO.

His sojourn to PKR was, to me, an expedient course, rather than a diligent one. He thought he needed a platform to move on with his reformist agenda. It was thought that PKR welcome him with a open arms. Recent events showed that while the arms were wide open while welcoming him, the  hands may have held a knife to his back during the traditional welcome hugs.

Zaid could have been PKR's trump card. Coming from the deep end of the "enemy's" territory, he must have possessed bountiful of knowledge about the "enemy" and their ways. He has always been steadfast in what he believes in and if needs be, he would not shy away from going against the mainstream.

He has proven this time and time again. When he was practising law, he was the first to have started and pursued the idea of a super-sized legal firm. In 1987-88, when the Malaysian Bar was up in arms over the Tun Salleh affair, Zaid bucked the trend. He in fact supported the proceedings against Tun Salleh. He then established the Malay Lawyers Association.

While a Minister, he pursued what he thought was a necessary agenda for the BN government. He did not even get approval from his colleagues. He left.

In PKR, barely some months after joining the aprty, he was issued a ban from traveling to Sabah and Sarawak. That was the first sign of trouble for him in PKR. But being true to himself, he soldiered on with his own reformist agenda within PKR.

He must have either overrated the party's willingness to change or underrated the strength of his detractors from within the party, or both. But what would hurt him the most would be the killer blow delivered against him by the party's leadership.

The arguments against him are numerous. Some say he was being impatient in challenging for the number two seat. But that would go against the very ideal which the party so fervently and loudly preach, namely, a true and dynamic democracy which gives the opportunity to every worthy man to lead, or challenge for a seat to lead. Does PKR practice what it preaches? Or does PKR think what it preaches only applies to others but not itself?

Some say he was selfish and almost obstinate in his pursuit of reformation within the party. However, if ordinary members are not given the opportunity to test the worthiness of  his or her ideas within the party, what political dynamism are we talking about? If a party only wants to hear what it wishes to hear, what differentiates it from its opponents against whom it complains for being dictatorial on a daily basis?

This debacle, in all its high resolution glory, coming after PKR's self-induced loss in Batu Sapi and viewed from the spectre of the two state assemblymen on pogo stick in Perak, a kangaroo MP from Kulim, a frog from Bayan Baru as well as the legendary 16th September black comedy, makes one begin to wonder what the "K" in PKR stands for.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In a nutshell...

A son asks his father, "What can you tell me about politics? I have to learn about it for school tomorrow." The father thought some and said, "OK, son, the best way I can describe politics is to use an analogy. Let's say that I'm a capitalist because I'm the breadwinner.

Your mother will be the government because she controls everything, our maid will be the working class because she works for us, you will be the people because you answer to us, and your baby brother will be the future. Does that help any?" The little boy said, "Well, Dad, I don't know, but I'll think about what you said."


Later that night, after everyone had gone to bed, the little boy was awaken by his baby brother's crying. Upon further investigation, he found a dirty diaper. So, he went down the hall to his parent's bedroom and found his father's side of the bed empty and his mother wouldn't wake up. Then he saw a light on in the guest room down the hall, and when he reached the door, he saw through the crack that his father was in bed with the maid. The son then turned and went back to bed.


The next morning, he said to his father at the breakfast table, "Dad, I think I understand politics much better now." "Excellent, my boy," he answered, "What have you learned?"

The little boy thought for a minute and said, "I learned that capitalism is screwing the working class, government is sound asleep ignoring the people, and the future's full of crap."

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The administration of justice in Malaysia - a glaring misconception

Frankly I think there is a serious inability to grasp the basic and foundational concept of administration of justice, be it civil or criminal, in Malaysia. This inability in turn causes serious miscarriage of justice, difficulties and untold misery to many.

Quite why this inability exists is a mystery to me as we have really good brains within the upper echelon of the judiciary, prosecution chamber, police and the Malaysian bar.

To a certain extent I think it is the attitude, the ego and the knack for an almost sadistic utilisation of powers within certain quarters that causes this inability. And it continues till this very moment.

First of all, the administration of criminal justice here consists of four separate, but essential, machinations. They are the police, prosecution, defence and the Courts. The police investigates. The prosecution decides whether or not to prosecute and if so, it proffers the charge and prosecute. The lawyers defend the accused. The Courts  adjudicate.

These four bodies are different from each other, in both form and substance, as well as duties and functions. On the face of it, their respective duties and functions are opposed to each other's. Each of them may very well have different and conflicting interests.

For example, the defence lawyers' duties are primarily owed to their client, the accused person. Their job is to defend him and protect his interests. That would, at first glance, be in direct conflict or opposition of the duties of the prosecution, whose duties are owed to the State/society as  a whole. Its job is to prosecute and secure a conviction.

On the other hand, the duty of the police is to investigate. This duty is owed to the State as a whole. Their investigation report is then scrutinised by the prosecution which may accept or reject the same. In an ideal situation, the prosecution would even tell the police that some of the evidence obtained by the police was obtained illegally or improperly. In that sense, the duties of the two may also collide with each other.

The Court on the other hand owes its duty to the State as a whole as well as to all of those who appear before it. Every Judge has the duty to perform the oath of his or her office, namely, to discharge his judicial duties to the best of his/her ability, that he/she will bear his faith and allegiance to Malaysia and will uphold the Federal Constitution at all time (see the 6th Schedule of the Federal Constitution).

The Court hears the prosecution and the defence. It conducts the trial of the charge in accordance with the law. It decides whatever questions which may arise in relation to evidence. Finally, it determines the guilt or otherwise of the accused. In that sense, the Court has the last say and its functions may be in opposition of the functions of the other three bodies.

Despite these seemingly opposing duties, functions and interests, it must be remembered that these four bodies are part of ONE system. They are but an integral part of the Malaysian administration of criminal justice.

I say integral because without any one or more of these bodies, criminal justice would not be attained.

Imagine a criminal trial without defence Counsel being present, for example. Justice would not be attained. Imagine a detention without trial, where only the police does its "investigating" duties and then it also acts as the Judge by detaining the person for 60 days without having to produce that person in Court, criminal justice is also not attained.

The absence of any one or more of the four bodies in any criminal case would render the administration of criminal justice in that case inherently faulty and at the very least, farcical.

The result is only one word, injustice. Pure and simple.

Here comes the inability to grasp the basic and foundational precept. One or more of the four bodies often invariably think that they should gang up together to procure a conviction come rain or shine, by hook or by crook. To these people, the police, prosecution and even the Courts, are the machinations of the State, whose job is to obtain a conviction. The defence is the stumbling block. It is the ENEMY and therefore the defence should be treated with utter contempt befitting that which is applied against the enemies of the state.

That is the problem in a nutshell. And to further turn the grey water of justice even darker and murkier is the fact that some Judges do actually think that they are but part of the State's machinations to ensure a conviction! Thus we a have a situation of two bodies (police and prosecution), if not three (including the Court), ganging up together against the defence (the enemy).

Much of the bad press we read day in and day out about how shabbily some accused persons are treated nowadays are due to this moronic and misplaced idea of criminal justice.

These people forget that even though the four bodies bear different duties and responsibilities, at the end of the day they are an integral part of a system to ensure criminal justice. Criminal justice is only attained when the truth, and nothing but the truth, is uncovered and a fair and just decision is arrived at by the Court.

They forget that in this system, these four bodies are supposed to sit on a level field, each doing their part in the system, with no one body sitting above any others. Not even the Courts.

However, more often than not, the Courts think that they are the all and be all of this system. Just because they have the last say in making a decision, they think or perceive that they are the god of justice and that everybody else within the system should bow and kow tow to them at all times!

I suppose some people are still living in the feudal past!

Lately the Courts are so concerned with speed. It is as if suddenly the Courts have become an F1 team. The thing which really irritates the bejeezus out of me is the seemingly nonchalant attitude displayed by the Courts on fairness and justness. It is as if when a case is disposed, justice is done. As if the way it was disposed, the rationale for the disposal and everything else is secondary or rather not relevant.

Thus we hear of a case - a very real case - in the appeal Court where a pregnant lady Counsel had to, in the middle of the hearing, ask for a postponement because she was getting contractions! Apparently, she was arguing her case while her husband was waiting outside the Court just in case she went into labour.

And she did go into labour! How did this totally unfortunate event happen? Well, I was told that when the case was to be fixed, she did tell the Court not to fix it on that particular date as she was due to deliver. The Court had, inhumanly I must say, rejected her plea and fixed the hearing on that particular date nevertheless.

Such is the cold,  insensitive and inhuman approach taken by the Court when fixing a case for trial or hearing nowadays. Not all Courts, but some. And why is this approach taken? Well, because the Courts have to fulfill their KPI for disposal of cases every month I suppose.

Then we heard about a Court in Johor which suddenly brought forward a criminal trial without any reason whatsoever. The Counsel appeared in Court and told the Court that his client could not be traced. That was a reasonable excuse as his client, the accused person, was supposed to originally appear in Court at a later date.

The Judge was having none of that and issued a warrant of arrest. The accused person, through no fault of his was arrested. He was put in jail for a week before a High Court Judge freed him.

The accused person, just because the Court had merrily and without justifiable reason, brought forward the trial of his case, spent a week in jail for nothing. Why? Again, I would hazard a guess that the Court had brought forward the trial date because of the "speedy principle", I suppose.

I have a term for this. I call it "Speedy Gone-Justice".

During a trial, there are Judges who do not allow Counsel to cross-examine. There are Judges who take over the cross-examinations. There are Judges who force Counsel to admit the contents of documents. All in the name of expediency.

The fact that now our Courts are so fast and quick have become a source of pride to some people. These people go around town telling how even the Singapore Courts are impressed. I just want to laugh!

The Courts, to my mind, should stop playing god and get off  Mount Olympia and come down to the level playing field. It must soon realise that it is but only one part of the system which we have. It should bear that in mind.

Do I have to write about the prosecution and the police? On how they behave and conduct their affairs in the administration of criminal justice in Malaysia? Just look at the embarrassing and purely unethical way the prosecution is holding on to the clinical  notes of the three doctors in the Anwar Ibrahim sodomy trial as a prime example.

Shouldn't the priority be the attainment of justice? And does not justice mean the truth? And how to achieve the truth if relevant evidence are concealed? And without truth, do we get justice?

The prosecution has surely lost the plot. To them, all that matters is the procurement of a conviction, by hook or by crook. And to achieve that, the truth is consigned to somewhere within the dark dark recesses of their mind.

How sad.

As for the lawyers, it is the same story. Lawyers now argue for the sake of winning a case and that is all. They forget that above all, they are the officers of the Courts. That is paramount.

There is no more camaraderie among lawyers anymore. The other week, a top lawyer actually objected to an application for postponement by his opponent on the ground that the opponent's lead Counsel was undergoing cancer treatment!!! Unbelievable. But true.

Granted, his opponent had other eminent Counsel in the team. But the lead Counsel of choice was undergoing a cancer treatment. And yet this senior lawyer objected to a postponement vehemently. I wonder what he would do if he was in his opponent's shoes.

While I was doing my pupilage in 1986, my Master came back from Court one day. In exasperation he said "one of these days I would have to advise my clients to fight it out on the street."

I think, 24 years later, the time has come for me to do just that.