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Monday, December 3, 2007

Lingam Video: Who else for the Royal Commission?

I note from the report by Malaysiakini ('Royal panel: Ex-judge cum whistleblower 'pleasantly surprised', 28.11.2007) that Syed Ahmad Idid, the former High Court judge in discussing the intended Royal Commission of Enquiry into the judicial crisis had referred to the criteria suggested by HAKAM and asked “Who else is left?”.

We cannot lose sight of several key aspects of the discussion. If the motivation underlying the Government’s intention to establish the Royal Commission is sincere, its terms of reference will be designed to allow the Commission to consider all implications and ramifications of the Video. Further, the moral dictate by which the findings of the Commission will be given validity demand such terms of reference.

The implications and ramifications of the Lingam Video - ranging as they do from apparent interference by the Government into matters of judicial appointments and promotions to partisan decision making by judges in a manner contrary to the “without fear or favour” basis expected of independent judges - require that the comprehensive enquiry the circumstances warrant be conducted in a manner which leaves no room for doubt as to the integrity of the enquiry process and the findings.

Seen from this perspective, it is apparent that anyone who could be seen to have some interest or some axe to grind, would be a liability rather than an asset. It should not be open to anyone, no matter which ‘side’ they are with, to question the integrity of the enquiry process and the findings of the Commission. This is why the criteria suggested are so stringent and so far reaching.

The Commission does not have to be made up of a large number of commissioners. 3 or 5 members would suffice. Proper staffing arrangements could help the commission achieve the efficiency and efficacy expected of it. It is not unrealistic to expect that 3 or 5 persons of caliber fitting the criteria could be found. The Raja Muda of Perak, Raja Nazrin Shah, is one such person and could in light of his stature be invited to chair the Commission.

Should the need arise, assistance could be sought from international legal luminaries. There is precedent for this course of action. Judges from other commonwealth jurisdictions sat on the tribunal empanelled to try the former Lord President, Tun Salleh Abbas (judges from Singapore and Sri Lanka sat on the commission).

To this end, advice or recommendations could be sought from the International Commission of Jurists, a respectable organization whose mandate centers on the due administration of justice. Raja Aziz Addrusse is in fact a serving commissioner of the ICJ. The Judiciary and the Bar have enjoyed constructive relationships with international figures such as Michael Kirby, Justice of the Australian High Court, who have made outstanding contributions to the field within their respective jurisdictions as well as internationally and who would undoubtedly be in a position to ensure that the job was carried out and carried out as it ought to be.

The HAKAM criteria are the ideal. It is wholly unnecessary to jettison the ideal in favour of a perceived need for practicality. The matter at hand is one which allows for nothing less than the ideal.

Malik Imtiaz Sarwar
President, HAKAM


Anonymous said...

RCI Panel
Bar & Malik started the idea
PM seems to confirm it's real.
The Panels were shaped in some way.
Had this been conveyed in the last EGM
so a proposed list be on the way to PM?

Please get the ping-pong going
before it is no where!!
Some details of the references
will give PM no way to take less preference!

Anonymous said...

PM trying to divert Malaysias attention from Lingam Tape to that of Hindraf.