In the New System, You’re On Your Own

Once Umno succeeds and gets away with Perak, the seizure of constitutional rule and the coup against legislature would be complete. Power will reside solely on a clique, centred in the Prime Minister’s office from where orders flow.

Twenty-two years of Mahathir Mohamad and six under Abdullah Badawi, Malaysia has finally reached the precipice. The methods might be haphazard, but in twenty-eight years, especially in the last years of Mahathir’s rule, there had been a covert, single minded purpose to construct a system to replace the constitutional version. You wouldn’t have known this was happening, except that the signs of the new construction couldn’t be hidden and its results could be tested only publicly.

(a) In 1988 – Mahathir sacked Chief Justice Tun Salleh Abas and a number of other top judges, opening the way for a slew of new appointments so it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine who he might pick for the vacant slots.

(b) In 1993 – Mahathir removed legal immunities against the monarchy.

(c) In 1998 – Mahathir arrested Anwar and this bought him five more years in power to 2003. Anwar represented a pivotal Umno party link between grassroot politics and the elite institutions Mahathir headed.

(d) In 2002 – V.K. Lingam reported (without him knowing it) how he had been and was continuing to fix the judicial Bench, from top down, and this meant it had been going on for a year or two before the recorded phone conversation.

(e) In 2005 – Musa Hassan, the senior CID man leading the criminal arrest and interrogation of Anwar, was appointed deputy IGP, No. 2 in the police. A year later, he was made IGP.

(f) In 2008 – Badawi appoints Umno man Zaki Azmi as Chief Justice, finally rounding the circle and connecting the dots from the political party Umno to the executive government (specially the Prime Minister’s office) and the judiciary.

(g) In 2009, May 7 – The police invade the Perak legislature, seizing from Pakatan Rakyat its control and handing power over to Umno.

(h) In 2009, May 12 – Zambry Kadir of Umno is removed by the High Court as Perak chief minister and reinstalls Pakatan’s Nazir Jamaluddin. The next day the superior court judge Ramly Ali, the same name mentioned by Lingam, stops the High Court. On May 14, Nazir’s lawyers are told they won’t receive Ramly’s written judgement, which is also to say he need offer no rationale for his decision.