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Likas: In Defend Of J. Md Kamil & Judicial Integrity
By Kim Quek

28/6/2001 10:15 pm Thu

[Mahathir dan Rais telah mempertikaikan keputusan hakim Md Kamil dengan komen yang tidak sepatutnya. Mahathir mempersoalkan catatan peribadi hakim itu manakala Rais menganggap hakim tersebut sudah tersilap pula. Kedua-dua tanggapan ini jelas tidak menghormati keputusan hakim - atau dengan kata lain menghina mahkamah secara terbuka. Yang peliknya hujah-hujah bernas hakim Md Kamil yang lainnya tidak diungkit pula. Tampak jelas keresahan mereka berdua dan sikap kerajaan yang enggan mengaku kalah walaupun sudah terbukti segalanya. Mereka menyerang peribadi hakim - bukannya fakta yang terang lagi nyata. Padahal catatan hakim Kamil cumalah satu sindiran yang akan diterkam oleh pihak yang terasa tetapi dungu akan implikasinya kerana ia mungkin akan membunuh sesiapa yang menyentuhnya..... - Editor]



Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and defacto Law Minister Rais Yatim's concerted attacks on Justice Muhammad Kamil Awang's Judgement annulling the Likas Election is a gross injustice to Justice Muhammad and an insult to the intelligence of the people of this Country.

Justice Muhammad's courageous Judgment, which exposed a ruling party inspired, massive infusion of illegal immigrants into the electoral role of Sabah, has won the applause of the whole Nation. His revelation of an illegal attempt by the former Chief Justice to abort the hearing is a landmark judicial act that bodes well for the new Chief Justice's noble vow to restore integrity to the fallen Judiciary.

While the Nation jubilates over this latest triumph of the righteous over the corrupt within our Judiciary, the uncalled for attacks by Mahathir and Rais appear as a spoke in the wheel of our expectant judiciary reforms and reveal in stark focus who the real villains are in this controversy.

The issues raised by Mahathir and Rais to malign Justice Muhammad are trivial comments in the Judgment, taken completely out of context, and deliberately distorted and blown up to accuse Muhammad of allowing his personal grievances to 'tarnish the image' of the entire Judiciary.

In the ending paragraphs of Muhammad's Judgment, he took the opportunity to observe a 'worrisome trend or culture' in the Government. He lamented the total non-response of government departments to public's letters and reports. To illustrate his point, he gave 2 personal experiences, one being his son applying for a temporary work permit, and the other his daughter applying for a scholarship for a one year post graduate course. In both cases, there was no acknowledgement from the government in spite of reminders.

Muhammad's motivation to make the above observation must have been obvious, if one reads through his Judgment. Reading through his Judgment, one cannot help but feel the frustration in him, when he gave instances after instances of total non-response from various government departments to numerous written complaints from the public on phantom voters and illegal identity cards. Opposition party leaders had made numerous written complaints on various occasions, giving relevant details of sometimes dozens, and sometimes thousands and even tens of thousands of electors with dubious identity cards to National Registration Department, Election Commission and the Police, occasionally appealing all the way to the head offices in Kuala Lumpur. Invariably, there was no response to all these written complaints and appeals. Making these complaints to the Government was like barking to a stonewall. Under these circumstances, can you really blame any one for feeling angry and frustrated at such blatant irresponsibility of an elected government, least of all a high court judge? Wouldn't Justice Muhammad be feeling the reprimand of his own conscience, if he were to keep mum (particularly out of timidity) over such heinous betrayal of public trust by the Government?

It is within this context that Muhammad's personal experiences were cited not to express a personal loss, but to reinforce his view of an arrogant trend in government to totally ignore public complaints, which trend has precipitated the electoral fraud that forms the subject matter of this case.

However, Mahathir chose to interpret Muhammad's references to his son and daughter otherwise. Mahathir said:

"It was obvious the Judge harboured ill feelings when he commented that his son did not get good treatment from the government. Other similar election petitions in Sabah have been dismissed by other courts except this Likas case. The Judge was obviously not happy with the way he was treated in Sabah."

It is childish and mischievous of Mahathir to interpret Muhammad's references to his son and daughter as airing his 'personal grievances', imputing improprieties into Muhammad's Judgment. It is also equally wrong of Mahathir to implicitly conclude that just because all the other election petitions in Sabah have been dismissed by the courts, Muhammad should also do the same, unless motivated by improper personal reasons (such as personal unhappiness with the government as in Muhammad's case).

Contrary to Mahathir's implicit assertion that the other election petitions in Sabah have been rightly dismissed, Muhammad's Judgment has opened up a new vista of massive election crimes in Sabah whereby tens of thousands of phantom voters consisting of illegal Philippine and Indonesian immigrants uncovered in the trial are merely a 'tip of the iceberg', to quote Muhammad. For that reason, all the other election petitions that have been dismissed previously are now suspect and must be fully investigated with a view to uncover irregularities and tampering of justice. This is important, particularly when Muhammad has disclosed that other judges hearing similar election petitions in Sabah had called him for advice regarding similar telephone calls from the former Chief Justice to dismiss their cases.

On the issue of conspiracy, though Muhammad has mentioned there is no legal evidence to show the existence of an agreement between the Prime Minister (or other Minister) and the Sabah Barisan Nasional conspiring to the register non-citizens in the electoral roll, nevertheless, witnesses and evidences galore indicating the existence of massive campaigns to issue blue identity cards to illegal Philippine and Indonesian immigrants and the subsequent registration of these phantom voters in the electoral rolls. In these illegal activities, UMNO officials play a heavy role, abetted by the National Registration Department, the Election Commission and the Police. Involvement of the highest authorities in the National Registration Department and the Election Commission respectively in Kuala Lumpur is indicated when the former ignored completely written complaints from Opposition leaders in Sabah on cases of blue identity cards being issued to illegal immigrants, and the latter gave strict directives to Sabah election officials not to entertain any objection on tens of thousands of dubious voters in the electoral roll that surfaced frequently.

The question is: what motivated these highest civil servants to commit such treasonous acts against the State in unlawfully admitting these tens of thousands of illegal immigrants as citizens and voters? Personal gain can be ruled out, as these are more than offset by the heavy punishment that can be meted out for such high crimes against the Country.

The only plausible explanation is that this is the political strategy of the UMNO leadership to regain political power in Sabah from the Kadazan (mainly Christians) dominated PBS. The latter had won every Sabah election since 1986 save the last one in 1999. It did not take a genius to find out why. Until the last election in 1999, the Sabah electorate had been such that non-Muslim Kadazans and Chinese overwhelmingly outnumbered Malays (all Muslims) and other Muslims. With UMNO's heavy emphasis on racial and religious privileges, which alienated the non-Malays and non-Muslims, there was virtually no chance that the UMNO dominated Barisan Nasional could unseat the PBS Government, unless there was a drastic restructuring of the ratio of non-Muslim to Muslim electorates and re-drawing of the electoral boundaries.

And this is exactly what happened. Through massive infusion of illegal Philippine and Indonesian immigrants (who are all Muslims) and gerrymandering, Muslim majority constituencies in Sabah in the 1999 electoral roll had suddenly and inexplicably increased from 30% to 50% of the total constituencies of 48 within a short period of 5 years. Given this numerical boost, Barisan Nasional swept the last Sabah election in 1999, after employing every dirty election trick available under the sun, which included fraud, threat, blackmail, bribery, abuse of government resources, etc.

Now that Justice Muhammad has established legitimacy to past complaints of serious electoral frauds that have hitherto been rejected and denied by the Government, we must pursue relentlessly to clean up this mess and restore justice to the people of Sabah. An independent commission of enquiry should be set up immediately with the following objectives:

  1. On illegal issue of blue Ics

    -Uncover the syndicates that issue blue Ics to illegal immigrants.

    -Bring the offending politicians, National Registration officials and other government appointed officials to books.

    -Trace the offence to the highest-ranking politicians for directing this illegal campaign and uncover the political motive.

    - Ascertain and cancel all blue Ics illegally issued.

  2. On phantom voters

    - Cleanse the electoral roll of all phantom voters which include electors issued illegally with blue Ics, electors registered with temporary Ics and fake Ics, electors with duplicate IC numbers and electors disqualified through court conviction.

    - Ascertain officials of the Election Commission who collaborated in the operation to register phantom voters and who had given direction not to entertain objections to these phantom voters.

    - Ascertain the motive and trace the offence to the highest-ranking politicians who initiated this operation.

Returning now to Mahathir and Rais' concerted criticism of Justice Muhammad, it is pertinent to note that Rais intimidated that he would take action through current Chief Justice Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah to ensure that the Likas case is not repeated. In rebuking Justice Muhammad, Rais said:

"Actually, what he did to me has damaged efforts by my department and the Judicial Department in rehabilitating the image of the judiciary.

But I am confident that we will try again so that judges will be truly neutral and not use their position for politicking or including anti-administration comments that have nothing to do with the judiciary."

Rais, like his master Mahathir, must have taken the Malaysian public as fools, for making such preposterous and laughable comments and still expect the public to swallow them.

Muhammad's judgment of massive electoral frauds is fully substantiated with collaborated witnesses and irrefutable and unchallenged evidence in writings. What has Rais got to say to that?

In the eyes of Mahathir and Rais, Muhammad's wrong was that he had exposed the ruling party's unforgivable crime in robbing the people of Sabah of their political rights, and also the former Chief Justice's illegal attempt to tamper with justice. But instead of being man enough to take Muhammad head on and attack his main Judgment, they cowardly stoop to pick on a minor side comment, extract it out of context, distort its original intent, and use it to make a full blast on the presiding judge. Rais even had the cheek to use this as a pretext to suggest that "the code of ethics for judges be reviewed to include additional and suitable provisions to prevent a repeat of the Likas case". (Bernama, 26h June).

Mahathir and Rais' naked and clumsy attempt to pressure the new Chief Justice and the Judiciary to toe the line is all too obvious.

Justice Muhammad, together with Justice Mohd Hishamudin of the Shah Alam High Court (habeas corpus case), have just given a glimmer of hope for judicial reforms under the new Chief Justice through their courageous judgment recently. These courageous judges have risked victimization from a vindictive Executive to uphold judicial integrity. They have just broken new grounds for others to follow in the expectedly long and tortuous road of judicial reforms under the present repressive regime.

For this reform to succeed, it is absolutely essential that those who have courted the displeasure of the Executive in the course of serving justice must not be victimized in any way. For this the Malaysian public must play their part, through words and deeds, their solidarity with the just, and their emphatic rejection of any Executive attempt to undermine justice.

-Kim Quek-