I read in the papers this morning that the Chief Justice had issued a warning to all judges that any misbehaviour by them could mean the setting up of a tribunal. I am glad when anyone in power declares his or her intentions of cleaning up.
The first time I heard of a tribunal being set up to 'discipline' a judge and thereafter a few judges was many-many years ago. The intention was 'to get rid' of the Chief Justice of the day. The initiator of the act was none other than the much revered, can-do-no-wrong, it-seemed-spotless-clean, champion-of-all, cleverest-man-in-the-world, most-compassionate, fighter-for-freedom, hater-of-corruption, will-not-have-any-corrupt-minister-in-his-cabinet, ex PM, The Venerable Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. The whole proceeding was clouded in mystery and suddenly the outcome: the expulsion of the Chief Justice for misconduct. The term misconduct as the present Chief Justice had implied is a very general term. I wonder if farting in court is a misconduct? I think it depends on who the PM of the day is.
I was and still am of the opinion that the dismissed ex-Chief Justice was axed because of the inability to perform an easy act. During the Look East era, Japan and Korea was looked upon as Kingdoms of Heaven where easy loans are obtained to sponsor well connected locals to embark on money wasting projects, guaranteed by the PM of the day. One of the main characteristics of these angels from heaven is their trademark 'bow'. The ex-Chief Justice, it seemed, couldn't master the act of 'bowing'. While to the Japanese and Koreans, bowing is a tradition, our PM of that day misconstrued it as ascending to the wishes of masters or in plain English, (is it English?) kow-tow. The man doesn't kow-tow to the wishes of his Lords and he was removed. Oh, by the way, it is this same Lord who is now screaming for justice.
I hope the call of the present Chief Justice is not a veiled threat that kow-towing or the inability to perform the act is also a misconduct. He did mention that bias judging can be seen as a misconduct and I fully agree with him. I was hoping that he would spend more time in talking about corrupt judges and how corrupt judgments are not plain misconducts but rather criminal misconducts. I say this because I see bias judging to be closely related to corruption. Yes some judgments are simply plain bias without any elements of corruption. A judge may not like a person either because of race, religion, old feud or he /she doesn't like how that person looks. He gives a judgment against that person. This is bias judgments. What about judges accepting material rewards to influence his judgments? Surely that is criminal misconduct. What if a judge is promised promotions as inducement to sway his judgment to favour a certain party. Surely that too is criminal misconduct.
After the intervention of the Executive into the Judiciary which saw the Judiciary being downgraded as a subsidiary of the Executive, our Judiciary has not been the same anymore. The integrity of the courts has been greatly compromised. Judgments have at times been confusing and mind-boggling and downright shameful.
I hope the auspicious Chief Justice, being the man of integrity that he is with this noble call, would initiate a serious drive towards the re-integratisation ( I know there is no such word, please help suggest a better one or we just accept and patent it) of our once proud and fiercely independent judiciary. For making that call, I salute you sir.
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