Lawyers rap Dr M for questioning court power

By Yow Hong Chieh and Boo Su-Lyn, The Malaysian Insider

Lawyers today weighed in on Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s latest blog post, in which he questioned the court’s power to issue contempt citations.

The former prime minister was referring to the contempt charges levelled against his ex-political secretary, Matthias Chang.

Chang was charged with “contempt in the face of court” on March 25, after he refused to apologise for arguing with the judge and a lawyer during his defamation suit against American Express (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.

He was sentenced to a month in jail after refusing to pay the RM20,000 fine.

Murelidaran Navaratnam, Penang Bar chairman, said it was well within the rights of the judge to issue such citations.

“The power to charge someone with contempt (of court) has been there since time immemorial,” he said, citing the British roots of Malaysia’s legal system.

“The judge has the power to charge any person with contempt. Whether or not the judge should or should not do that is another question.”