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SMH: High Court judge flays Mahathir's justice
By Mark Baker

3/6/2001 7:59 am Sun

[Jelas Bulan Jun adalah bulan untuk Mahathir pening kepala. Sudahlah Daim tiada - dia terpaksa berdepan dengan pelbagai batu tajam yang tidak serik menghempap kepala angkara dirinya juga...... Suhakam menyokong Anwar diberikan rawatan luar - sekaligus membayangkan Musa Hitam masih bertaring walaupun sudah terkeluar.

Hakim Hishamuddin telah memetik satu suis yang menggemparkan negara sehingga menggelabah Mahathir dan anjingnya kesakitan telinga. Dengan peguam negara membisu seribu bahasa tidak berbuat apa-apa makin pening kepala Mahathir memikirkannya...... Apakah beliau sudah jatuh ditimpa tangga?
- Editor

The Sydney Morning Herald
1st June 2001

High Court judge flays Mahathir's justice

By Mark Baker, Herald Correspondent in Singapore

A Malaysian High Court judge has delivered a humiliating rebuke to the Mahathir Government's use of a draconian, colonial-era security law to fight the growing clamour for reform from opposition parties.

In an extraordinary decision, the judge has ordered the release of two activists held for almost two months, condemned the police handling of their case and urged the scrapping of the Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows suspects to be held indefinitely without trial.

Abdul Ghani Haroon and N. Gobalakrishnan, prominent members of the opposition Keadilan Party, were among 10 activists arrested in early April and accused of involvement in a plot to overthrow the Government.

At the time, the Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, said the group was gathering weapons and seeking support from Indonesia for a violent uprising, and defended use of the ISA to "nip them in the bud" and safeguard national security. "Once the people understand democracy, which means that violence is not used to overthrow the Government, I think at that stage we can think of revising the law," he said.

But Justice Hishamudin Mohamad Yunus said police had failed to produce evidence to substantiate the allegations against the accused and had violated their rights by denying them access to lawyers and their families.

"Those police officers responsible for the detention of the applicants must wake up to the fact that the supreme law of this country is the Constitution and not the ISA," he said in a 28-page ruling.

"To deny the detainees and their families access to one another and to their lawyers for such a long period is cruel, inhuman and oppressive ... The denial to counsel is not only unjust but it also makes a mockery of the right to apply for habeas corpus."

The judge rebuked the police chief and head of the police special branch for having "prematurely made up their mind" to detain the two men beyond the initial minimum period stipulated in the act, and for the police assertion that the two could not be allowed to see lawyers until the investigation was complete.

The decision is a big moral victory for the opposition parties, which have seen their support grow since the jailing in 1999 of Dr Mahathir's former deputy Anwar Ibrahim on discredited corruption and sex charges.

It is expected to lead to the early release of the eight other detainees and has thrown into doubt the future use of the act, which was introduced by the British colonial administration to counter terrorism but has been used frequently in recent years to jail opposition politicians and activists.

The United Nations special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Param Cumaraswamy, praised Justice Hishamudin's ruling.

"The judge's independence and courage in the present environment must be admired. It signals the resurgence of judicial independence in Malaysia."

Mr Gobalakrishnan said outside the court that he had been very badly treated in custody, kept in solitary confinement under bright lights that were never turned off.

"I could not sleep," he said.