Review Federal Court’s Decision Immediately

By P. Ramakrishnan (Aliran President)

The Chief Justice of Malaya Tan Sr Zaki Azmi must do the nation a favour by ordering the Federal Court to review its decision concerning the suspension of BN Menteri Besar Zambry Abdul Kadir and his six executive councillors. This act of the CJ would be perceived by thinking Malaysians as doing national service. It is imperative that he heeds this earnest and urgent call and orders an immediate review.

The decision of the Federal Court was termed as “a perverse judgment” by none other than the much respected and highly regarded N H Chan, a former Court of Appeal judge. To the ordinary Malaysians it was a scandalous judgment that had discredited the five judges and tarnished the judiciary beyond repair.

It is beyond anybody’s imagination how these five learned judges could have ignored and discarded the provisions of the Federal Constitution. N H Chan has referred to Article 72 which touches on the Privileges of Legislative Assembly. This is a very significant Article which had direct bearing to the case before the Federal Court and yet this was completely dismissed as inconsequential to the case.

These provisions confer certain rights and immunity to safeguard the sanctity of the Legislative Assembly which are spelt out very clearly. There is no ambiguity in what has been stated. Even laypersons have no difficulty in understanding these provisions:

72. Privileges of Legislative Assembly.

    (1) The validity of any proceedings in the State Assembly of any State shall not be questioned in any court.

    (2) No person shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said or any vote given by him when taking part in proceedings of the Legislative Assembly of any State or of any committee thereof.

    (3) No person shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything published by or under the authority of the Legislative Assembly of any State.

It is amazing that these five learned judges could have overlooked these very important provisions. And we have to ask, “Why?” If they are expected to dispense justice in a fair and impartial manner shouldn’t they have paid attention to the supreme law of the country? We have every right to expect them to be thorough before delivering their judgment.

These five judges are responsible if Malaysians continue to be cynical and skeptical about our judiciary. And we have to wonder how many brave and honest judges are left in the judiciary who will respect the Federal Constitution and remain true to their conscience in delivering justice.

The CJ cannot remain unconcerned and unperturbed over what has taken place. He has to play his role as the guardian of the judiciary and salvage its reputation and restore people’s confidence in the rule of law.

P Ramakrishnan
18 April 2009