Rodziah Ismail Ticker's Blog

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Posted in Judiciary, Malaysian Politics, Perak, Politics by rodziahismailticker on February 10, 2010

Has the law become an ass?

FEB 10 2010— For an event with only two outcomes, there is a 50-50 chance of it happening either way. So you would have thought. Consequently, many wanted the verdict of 9 February of the country’s top judges in the apex court to reflect that logical outcome. More so in a constitutional impasse that has drawn attention of the entire nation, nay the entire world.

But wouldn’t it be a wishful thinking to have ever thought that MB Nizar would win? Yes, perhaps, given the state of our very-much-to-be-desired judiciary. But in a not-so-clear-a-case like this acrimonious debate, you still harbour a little hope for a close call at least.

When the federal court returned a verdict of a thrashing 5-0 win to MB Zambry, you can’t blame the many that have alleged that the law has truly become an ass. I could still recall MB Nizar wanted a full 9-member bench. The country has just been saved from being humiliated, the greatest shame of the century with a 9-0 verdict!

In the same vein, imagine the battle of two titans in a world cup with an outcome of 5-0 win. Now imagine a 9-0 win. Mind-shattering, too bizarre! That’s exactly the state of affairs in our beloved country right now, Mr PM. Beleaguered.

It’s most pathetic to have heard you, Mr PM, say, “let’s accept the court’s verdict and move on”. That was your knee-jerk response as usual, nothing really go high up beyond your brain-stem. You have ‘to say something’ each time and you did. But true leaders have really ‘something to say’, regrettably, you didn’t.

We shall wait in anticipation, for the time when the rakyat will one day tell you to just accept the verdict of the election, Najib ie your defeat, and move on. It may not be the next 13th GE as yet. But it could well be. You and your First Lady must pack your bags and get out of Putrajaya.

If you could gladly and heartily accept the verdict of that election that makes you the man who has led one of the world’s longest-governing parties to defeat, perhaps we might reconsider our revulsion and disgust to this verdict. Perhaps we could emulate your magnanimity and grace. But could you accept defeat and just move on?

Be that as it may, the country has got to absorb the far-reaching implications of this verdict. Cynicism aside, I now write with a bipartisan interest, with the Federal Constitution (FC), the nation and the rakyat at heart.

Of the many implications, this piece is only highlighting one. But this one implication must be unequivocally and categorically said as it is the one that revises and transforms the FC through a backdoor manner of sort.

Never before had I wished to have a doctorate in law, only when ‘lawlessness’ and the assault on the FC have reached levels that were previously unimaginable. Yes, the verdict has outrightly disfigured the notion or doctrine of a constitutional monarchy.

Amidst their euphoria, the BN leaders seemed oblivious of the full import of the verdict. With the judgment by none other than the top judges of the apex court of the country, the principles governing a vibrant and functional parliamentary democracy is seriously challenged and critically compromised.

Do judges really understand the concept of responsible government, where it is a conception of a system of government that embodies the principle of parliamentary accountability responsible to parliament (and if bicameral, primarily to The Dewan Rakyat, which is directly elected, and thus more representative than the Dewan Negara) rather than to the monarch, or, in the colonial context, to the imperial government.

The apex court has added another case to a list of cases that contravenes the very notion of constitutionalism and representative democracy, the very heartbeat of the FC. That the Monarch could refuse the appointment of a Menteri Besar chosen by the party in power is admittedly arguable as in Terengganu. That didn’t directly impinge and intrude on the practice of democracy but more appropriately to save democracy.

But if the Monarch could now dismiss the lawful Menteri Besar (and by so doing brings down a government i.e. causing a regime change) if he so chooses, one that is democratically elected and appointed by the people, this is totally not analogous and different from the former.

In very plain English, the Federal Court affirmed the role played by Sultan Azlan Shah in the change of government in Perak a year ago. The apex court concurred with the appellate court’s ruling that MB Nizar must resign after failing to get the Perak Sultan to dissolve the state assembly to pave the way for fresh elections.

It was the Sultan who interviewed the three elected representatives who resigned from Pakatan Rakyat and concluded that MB Nizar had lost the confidence of the state assembly. Incidentally, two of the three assemblymen were under indictment for corruption.

In the true spirit of a responsible government and a country that upholds constitutional monarchy, renowned constitutional law experts from Malaysia and abroad, had critically opined that the proper forum to test a motion of no confidence should be the legislative assembly. The judges were also quick to penalise Nizar’s lawyers on a technical ground of not resorting to the right provision in their submission. But judges of such stature surely need no reminders from lay people to see the bigger picture of constitutionalism and its underpinning objectives.

The court in this instance has added another case to a list of cases that contravenes the idea of constitutionalism and democracy, which stand at the very heart of the FC. That is actually the bone of contention in this debate.

The intervention of the royal household indeed invited scorn from Malaysians and subsequently embroiled the Monarch and the palace into disrepute. This is most regrettable much as it is disfiguring the notion of a constitutional monarchy. But the powers-that-be are not concern as long as they could achieve their political ends. In simple plain English again, theirs have now become a government appointed by the Monarch, not elected by the people.

Has the anger and disappointment with the palace gone away? No. The Merdeka Center survey shows clearly that a significant percentage of the people of Perak are dissatisfied with the role played by the palace in the Perak power grab.

Some 74 per cent of voters in Perak felt that elections remain the best way to end the impasse in the state. In the same survey conducted by Merdeka Center, voters were asked to choose which they preferred: a. the economy or b. having a democratically-elected government. Sixty per cent of the respondents said they wanted a government elected democratically.

That this is a very sad day for democracy is a gross understatement.

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.


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