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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Perak Ramblings

I love the way some people spin things. Especially when the spin is so shallow that all it manages to do is to boomerang back and hit the spinner's forehead. Spinning is an art. And if it does not take off, it would fall flat. And worse still, it might boomerang back to the spinner's face.

I am talking about the High Court's decision in the Nizar v Zambry case. Before the decision was given, I was telling my friends that in the event Nizar succeeds, the BN spinners would surely spin it by saying that Nizar's success is definite proof that our Courts are independent. Fair enough, yesterday, after the Court delivered its judgment, the newly minted Malay Mail Chief Editor published this post on his blog, Rocky's Bru.

That post encapsulates the Barisan Nasional's simplistic and almost nonchalant attitude towards the independence of the Judiciary. Coming from the Chief Editor of a national newspaper (or rather in Malay Mail's case, I would rather call it a national tabloid) makes the post laughable. The shallowness it portrays befits the image of the BN, and particularly UMNO, nowadays. If they are finding life difficult nowadays, they have nobody to blame but themselves as they continue to dig the proverbial hole and unconsciously preparing to jump into it.

What he and his BN masters don't realise is that the people's perception about the partiality of the Courts towards the Government is not something new. It is also not something which suddenly appeared, as if one fine day, the people of Malaysia woke up and decide to distrust our Courts. This perception is not the product of one or two cases in the last few months. It began a long time ago. And if people like Rocky - and his BN masters - still need reminding on how this perception started to bear itself and then morphed itself into a sub-conscious super glue, then dare I say that the BN has no business governing this country as much as the Mat Rempits have no business guarding a bank vault. What crap!

The reputation of our Courts as one of the best Courts in the Commonwealth was not built in one night. It was built over years and years of excellent judicial tradition. Judges were courteous to lawyers and litigants. They were conscientious. Hard working. Knowledgeable. Through the years, Malaysia produced towering Judges who were at par with those law Lords presiding in the House of Lords. Judges like the late Tun Suffian and Tan Sri Eusoffee Abdoul Cadeer. Judges like Datuk VC George, Mahadev Shankar, Harun Hashim, KC and LV Vohrah et al.

Although Rome was not built in one night, it could just disappear in one day. The same with our Courts. It just took a couple of months for ONE man to desecrate our Courts, groped its chest, molested and raped it beyond recognition and rendered it powerless and almost useless! Life has never been the same again ever since. And if people like Rocky or the BN government still need to ask what was it that I was referring to, then probably all of us Malaysians should just commit harakiri, like, now.

It has been 21 years since. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge. And just because Nizar had won but ONE case does not in any way show that our Courts have regained its full independence and impartiality. True, there have been a spate of decisions which are in favour of civil societies, such as the one delivered by Justice Dato' Syed Helmy in the RPK ISA case. But those are few and far between. And it takes the braveness and conscience of the Judge to come up with such decisions.

So, please. Don't treat us like some morons. One case does not make the Courts great again. Just wait and see what will happen from today, in the Court of Appeal and Federal Court. Then we can make conclusions.

If you asked me, the only way to bring back some resemblance of the glory of our Courts is to reintroduce the right to appeal to the Privy Council. That is the only way to check the excesses, mistakes and even down right stupidity displayed by some of our Judges.

For the uninitiated, the Privy Council consists of 5 House of Lords' Judges in the United Kingdom. They can be convened to hear appeals from Commonwealth countries such as Malaysia. Before 1984 (if I am not mistaken), litigants in Malaysia may appeal to the Privy Council from decisions of the Malaysian Federal Court. These law Lords would then hear the appeals and they would advise our King on the case.

There were many cases which were referred to the Privy Council. Many of the cases were on points of law relating to the Federal Constitution and also on judicial review of governmental acts. Needless to say, the Privy Council decided according to the law and nothing else. Malaysians Judges therefore had to be on their toes. They cannot be partial. Their judgements must be well reasoned. They must conduct themselves in the highest tradition of the Common Law Judges. If not, the Privy Council would tear into their judgements and make them look really stupid. Of course that was not good. Was it?

Guess who abolished the right to appeal to the Privy Council. It doesn't take a genius to know. Well I give you a clue. It wasn't Winnie the Pooh.

Can you all imagine if the right to appeal to the Privy Council is brought back now? Our Judges would be trembling in their tiny little underpants! Any judicial indiscretion, any judgement not strictly based on the law, any moronic conclusion which defies logic and intelligence would be opened up by five law Lords in the Privy Council, dissected, commented upon and consigned to the bins of idiocy for the whole Commonwealth to see.

The Privy Council would have the last say. And I am sure they are above everything else BUT the law and the law alone. Just by one stroke of the pen, the Malaysian Courts' reputation would regain some form of normalcy.

Don't you all think so?

By the way. The Times, on April 24th 2009 has this report:

A district judge has been sacked for “inappropriate, petulant and rude” behaviour towards solicitors appearing before her in court.

In the first judicial sacking for decades, Judge Margaret Short has been removed by the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice after a “history of complaints”.

The decision was announced yesterday by the Office for Judicial Complaints, which said that the decision to remove the judge followed a judicial investigation started in 2006.

That found that as well as being rude and petulant, the judge had taken annual leave when told not to; refused to hand over papers to assist the investigation into her behaviour and made serious “untrue” allegations against support staff.

I hope some of our Judges read this report. Especially one or two who think they are gods, or some creature closed to gods. They know who they are.

Corrigenda: Rocky from Rocky's Bru has pointed out that he is not the Chief Editor of the Malay Mail. I must admit that I did not verify that fact before writing this post. Apologies for the mistake.


Richard Cranium said...

"Guess who abolished the right to appeal to the Privy Council. It doesn't take a genius to know. Well I give you a clue. It wasn't Winnie the Pooh."

Yeah, we know. It was the Mad Hatter. Oh, sorry, different story.

Anonymous said...

these spinners think malaysians are a bunch of naive kids.

chairman for bloggers, chief of newspaper, president of journalist, just another mahathir's chess piece

Anonymous said...

I am so happy that people are actually standing up to bash Rocky's spinning openly, apart from RPK of course.

I was an ardent follower for years, but this last months has left me with a bitter taste as his spinning is getting beyond control !

Anonymous said...

art harun.....marry me


Anonymous said...

A return to the privy council would be an open admission that we are unable to govern ourselves.

it is what Britain planned for us all those years ago. they translocated us not just physically but also in every other conceivable way.

now we have to go back to them for justice?

change has to come from within us to be meaningful, Art.

art harun said...

Dear Anonymous (at 15:12),

I understand your concern. I know that that issue would be of concern. And I am partially in agreement with you on that.

The thing is this. Is everything which smells of British colonisation days bad? Change road names? School names? Do we have an iota of evidence to show that the Privy Council had in any of the cases referred to it before decided in a manner which is replete with or could be seen as pursuing any colonialist agenda? If not, then we are just afraid of our own shadows.

We inherit the Common Law from them. The Common Law which is applicable here is the very Common Law which is applicable in the UK. No difference at all. What is the real objection of having their law Lords who are known to be fiercely independent and impartial decide some cases where parties so wish?

I agree that change should come from within. But we have displayed a stubborn inability to change and an adverse reaction to calls for change. Perhaps then we should look elsewhere for a change.

If it is good for us and the nation, then I ask, why not? When we have managed to instill the highest tradition of the Common Law within ourselves, then it is not beyond us to abolish the referral to the Privy Council again.


Anonymous said...

If they find that rights of referring to Privy Council is turning anticlockwise, then they should conduct in a manner that public have trust in them. Otherwise not only Malaysian have doubts, investors too and will shy away from our land.

Cruzeiro said...

Hi Art!
This rocky fella - I don't think he's someone worth "debating" about. This was one character I somehow had misgivings about from the start - and sure enough, he showed his colors upon gaining "inroads" to his dream.
Although I was tempted to whack this guy (for what it's worth), I thought that it wasn't worth the effort.

The problem with Rocky is, he thinks journalism is about playing mercenary/ ronin and aligning to "camps" as he put it while trying to whack RPK. The concept of non-alignment and working for an ideal is lost on these simpletons with humongous egos.

The same actually goes for the current breed of Umno/BN politicians, judges, lawyers, civil service, police etc etc etc. Each and everyone of them seem to believe that he'she HAS TO be aligned to one party or other, and and credibility/ideals/values are the least of their concerns. What matters to them is that they are rewarded materially- even if it peanuts which make them look like monkeys.

As for the recent judgment on Nizar vs Zambry(which has now been "spayed") - I'm a little cynical. It is a very real possibility that it is simply part of a bigger gameplan, the conclusion of which (like in a hindi movie) would be as expected.

As for the spin-doctors like Rocky & gang- like their political masters, "shame" is something they don't understand or have.

Cruzeiro said...

"the current breed" mentioned refers to that group of guys who have brought disrepute to every institution/ organization they have helmed/ worked in, with their political patronage.

Anonymous said...

Dear Art 15:45

i have no problem whatsoever with The Common Law. i have no qualms about names of schools and roads either.

but let us not go off at a tangent here. stop gap measures are just that. how long do you suggest we stick our finger in the leaking dyke? what, in practical terms, does "when we have managed to instill the highest tradition of the Common Law within ourselves" mean?

and you say "we have displayed a stubborn inability to change". no no no. we are well capable of change and we have been displaying it all along. Unfortunately, we have changed for the worse!

if i have it right, stephen kalong ningkan received no justice from the privy council in his appeal against his sacking as chief minister of sarawak. It was years later at the Borneo High Court that Ningkan finally triumphed. (judge abdul aziz rahim based his recent judgement in zambry v nizar on Ningkan's case, ironically in a way).

the law lords at the privy coumcil, like any man/system, are not infallible and we should afford them no more than due credit.

anon 15:12

Patricia said...

I started reading Rocky's Bru without knowing he was the ex-editor of the Malay Mail. Then. (And a tabloid is what is was; and still is, I agree.)

Like Wong of The Star, he's not much of a writer; though his grammar is better, but only a bit lah.

On the Privy Council: Isn't it sad that we'd need to look outside our shores for a final appeal?

But the very fact of your feeling it necessary, belies the state of our judiciary. And that, dear Art, is even sadder.

Anonymous said...

rocky and his political masters..

i like the expose. at least, the blogging community knows he is not as independent as he wants us to believe.

for good measure, i have stopped visting his blog few months when it is apparent that he is not the Rocky that we all know. or maybe, he has disguised himself so well that we never knew him in the first place.

LAT said...

It is alwyas better to be late than never "to reintroduce the right to appeal to the Privy Council" for the fundamental doctrine of the Separation of Power between the Legislature, Judiciary & Executive have long lost its principality for the past 23 years, so we really need to "out source" for such an independent judicial instituion to restore tha faith and confident of all the right-thinking & oppressed Rakyat.

Tiger said...

Hahaha, it's funny how so many of Rocky's readers have turned against him.
So, he together with his BN masters still think Malaysians are stupid and blind?
Returning to the Privy Council would be good, for at least the independence of thought would be there.

Rocky's Bru said...

Hi Art,

Just a little correction, if I may.

You introduced me in your court here as "the newly-minted Malay Mail chief editor" .. and went on to build a case against me based on that. Unfortunately, I am NOT the newly-minted chief editor of any paper or tabloid.

You are one of the best in your profession, Art, so don't be lazy with getting your basic facts right. It can result in great injustice.

Thank you.

Gan said...

Does one right undo many wrongs, and, the slate is clean again?

Does one fair righteous judgement wipes out the numerous questionable judgements, and, the judiciary's impartiality is restored ?

art harun said...

Dear Rocky,

Thank you for the clarification. I made a mistake and I apologise. I based my "fact" on what I read. And there was no way I could verify with you as we do not know each other. I deserve to be labeled lazy then.


Anonymous said...

"He calls himself a non-governmental organism, practices law for a living and tries very hard to play guitar, sing, race cars and write some stuffs to stay alive."

The fact that you're able to do that is proof of the good governing policies that has benefited all Malaysians for decades. Only now after the so called 'political tsunami' that Malaysians are experiencing a troubled state. I sincerly think you and your kind are going against the government just for the sake of the good feeling that you have a purpose in life, and in the process creating a chaotic future for our children.
Very sad... why dont you just keep on playing guitar, sing, race cars and write some stuffs to stay alive. Very sad indeed.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:08,
I second that. You took the words right out of my mouth.

Anonymous said...

dunno la....
but from what i see it, the court is FAIR (the judge is independent) if its suit the party with interest..

- kelmarin -

Anonymous said...

but what if the privy council themselves are not impartial?

ever think of that?


thot so.

humans have motives.. regardless who they are.

art harun said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
art harun said...

Dear Anonymous (at 12:08 and 12:19),

You asked "why dont you just keep on playing guitar, sing, race cars and write some stuffs to stay alive". In case you have not noticed, that is exactly what I am doing.

Why are you sad?

Fahri said...

Dear One of Many Anonymous Without Much Credibility,

"I sincerly think you and your kind are going against the government just for the sake of the good feeling that you have a purpose in life, and in the process creating a chaotic future for our children."

If our government looked after the interest of the people, we would much rather do other things than oppose the government. But the Barisan Nasional government has proven itself ineffective, corrupt and self interested in the political elite within that coalition and ruining our children's future.

And when you talk about them, I hope it has not escaped your notice that none of our Universities are even in the top 10 in Asia and that we are a laughing stock with our so called hub of education which churns out one trick ponies.

Me? I pick hope in chaos then certain degradation. That is not just sad, it's pathetic, like your views.

Anonymous said...

Aloo brader..kalau nak komdem org tu baca la betul2..aku rasa Rocky punya artikel ok je.. ni la kalau dah otak SAMPAH asyik nak membangkang je..

Anonymous said...


your self righteous preaching was based on hearsay


P.S. Rocky is cool

RockyPru said...

our court just be great only for 21 hours. not even a day...
sudah dijangka la....kalau keputusan hanya dikeluarkan oleh hakim 'kecil', makna nyer, tak usah lah berharap ianya kekal. lain la kalau peguam negara yg putuskan yang rasanya tak bekerja untuk negara maupun kerajaan melainkan hanya bekerja untuk BN.

Anonymous said...

I guess you don't like what you see when you look at yourself in the mirror.

Why don't you start changing yourself first before preaching about it to others.

Kris said...

Dear anon who says we should be thankful for the small blessings we receive. You have lost sight of the fact (or maybe never aware of the same) that development, education and quality of life are the obligations of a duly elected government and not by their grace. That model is dictatorial, think Stalin, Idi Amin, Hitler, Ma.... you get the drift.

So carry on being grateful for these small blessings and in so doing squandering away the future of your children or allowing others to do the same while some of us try to stem the tide. Your gratitude here is optional.

Fight the good fight Art Harun.

Anonymous said...

Fight the good fight art harun??

But FIRST please check your facts before launching on a self-righteous preaching.

what a let down!

Your apologies should be placed at the beginning to save visitors from reading thru.

Rocky is a better read.

Rocky's Bru said...

Hi Art,

Thank you for the clarification, and for dropping by earlier.


Anonymous said...

19 hours is a record from the high court to the court of appeal.

so, what is the budak singapore doing here in the malay mail? no more talents from malaysia?

my simple mind reads these-lousy, nonchalant and idiotic way of writing.

no wonder mm doesn't do that well in other parts of malaysia.

mr. spinner, take your sudins back home.

art, i have high respects for you. and i love the way you spin in your own way. do carry on because your facts are hard-hitting.

carry on the justice.

we don't need another prowler in action.

Kris said...

Anon, you admonish Art Harun for not checking the facts but then carry on to say Rocky is a better read... ahhh.... I see....your preference is for fiction...


I think salman rushdie taste better for that matter.

Sumay said...

"The fact that you're able to do that is proof of the good governing policies that has benefited all Malaysians for decades. Only now after the so called 'political tsunami' that Malaysians are experiencing a troubled state. I sincerly think you and your kind are going against the government just for the sake of the good feeling that you have a purpose in life, and in the process creating a chaotic future for our children.
Very sad... why dont you just keep on playing guitar, sing, race cars and write some stuffs to stay alive. Very sad indeed"

Art Harun loves the soil he walks on, the playgrounds he played in as a child, the kerbaus he rode on in his kampung. He is fighting for it!!! In what way has the govt policy benefitted him. This smacks of needing to kowtow to the Govt du jour rather than the country. When education and giving him and everybody else a chance for a good education so that we get to drive at least the little coffin called the Kancil. It is a right of every citizen, an investment by any sane-minded government of the day to invest in the future of the betterment of our beloved country????

Art fights for everybody. I dare say if PKR errs, he will stick all over them like a cheap polyester suit.

Anonymous said...

14 May 2009 14:46 - Sumay says (+ Kris)

"Art fights for everybody. I dare say if PKR errs, he will stick all over them like a cheap polyester suit."

he better start now coz they are cheap

we prefer silk - they stick too

good lawyers check their facts first before launching on an 'elegant' preaching session

Read this "Taste Your Own Medicine", Najib tells Pakatan Rakyat


this might widen your horizon

Sumay said...

Anonymous (why not name yourself and shame all of us if you think what Art and the rest of us ungrateful beasts are saying is wrong,a person with integrity has nothing to fear. Even a pseudonym would do cause there are so many here who are not brave enough to put down their names)

I totally, totally agree with you that PKR are not angels and Anwar is probably the biggest devil there is. Proof, there was this little PKR devil who jumped ship to BN and caused all the chaos in Perak. I am wondering, if she is not interested in serving the rakyat in her capacity as an MP, why not she just step down gracefully...totally and go sell pomelos by the roadside.

The proof is in the pudding (or smooth tow foo, for Perak is known for) they say and I won't want to assume that rumours are right but she allegedly took bribes in the millions including a Camry. Najib? Does he have any credibility? He has been linked beyond a reasonable doubt to scandals upon scandals and has not addressed that issue except to deny, deny, deny. What I am probably waiting for is, if there is a much, much bigger issue at hand than Perak. Wag the dog anyone???

Anonymous, instead of quoting URLs I just wish, including Kris I am sure, that you would engage in a healthy debate from your side.

Goes to show, if you have something to sell, be it the juiciest pomelo or your soul, there is always a willing buyer.
And both parties are equally guilty of that transaction.

Kris said...

Of course you'd prefer silk. No doubt some caviar and foie gras while you're at it. But then such is the bent of those with a sense of entitlement whilst this country is being bled dry. Anon we don't have decent standards of education and public security (especially public security with crime on an uncontrollable spiral upwards) to name but two and the standards are falling. Widen my horizons? I fear they're already at a point you cannot or refuse to fathom. Try taking your silk blinkers off first...

Anonymous said...

Another Mahathir's chess piece re this rocky guy? A political pawn, I presume.

Newly minted Malay Mail editor? He was an old Malay Mail editor who lost his way. But, Art, you are still right to call "newly minted" because this Malay Mail is not the same as the old one.

This guy is totally shameless. Thinks he's macho and a ninja assassin.