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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

HAKAM Press Statement: The Video Controversy


HAKAM supports the call by civil society for the establishment of a Royal Commission of Enquiry to enquire into the video recording of a senior lawyer apparently in telephone conversation with a senior member of the judiciary whom many have formed the view is the current Chief Justice.

If the video recording is genuine and the telephone conversation did in fact take place, the implications are of grave concern, undermining the integrity of the entire judicial system. These implications include:
  • Extraneous influence having been brought to bear on the judicial process in so far as the appointment and promotion of judges are concerned;
  • The possibility of extraneous influence having been brought to bear on the manner in which cases before the courts have been dealt with;
  • The possibility of such or similar extraneous influence or influences still being brought to bear on the judicial process;
  • The existence of a system of patronage within the Judiciary and the absence of the requisite separation between the Judiciary and the Executive; and
  • The independence of the judiciary and the judicial process being questionable.
HAKAM views with concern the denial by the Honourable Prime Minister, as reported by the media, of a need for a Royal Commission. The Judiciary is one of the three primary organs of the state and is vital to the separation of powers. Continued public confidence in the Judiciary is of paramount importance and it is essential that public confidence be restored. It is indisputable that the video recording has shaken to the core the confidence of the nation in the Judiciary. If left unaddressed in a manner that is meaningful to citizens, will have serious repercussions. A denial of the need for a Royal Commission is a denial of the aspirations of Malaysians for a fair and just society.

It is imperative that the matter be investigated into urgently and with the transparency a Royal Commission will allow for. Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done.

HAKAM urges the Chief Justice to himself support the call for an independent and transparent investigation in deference to the need for the semblance of justice. It is further only appropriate that the Chief Justice distance himself from matters at hand by taking a a leave of absence pending the completion of such investigations. A show of humility of this nature will go far to begin the process of restoring confidence.

Malik Imtiaz Sarwar
President, National Human Rights Society

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