Tuesday September 12, 2006

Nazri: I’m not convinced of need to review 1988 crisis 

KUALA LUMPUR: There is no need to review the 1988 judiciary crisis in which the then Lord President and two Supreme Court judges were sacked, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said. 

“I am not convinced that there is a need to review the 1988 judiciary crisis,” said the de facto Law Minister in a forum entitled The 1988 Judiciary Crisis: To Review or Not? 

Nazri said there was no new fact or issue that could bring about the need for a review.  

“Many of the issues raised by the other speakers are based on speculation, and all the objections raised would have been addressed 18 years ago,” he said.  

“I am trying to look for something more to make me change my mind. I do not believe that the six judges in the tribunal (of former Lord President Tun Salleh Abbas) would have consciously conspired to find Salleh Abbas guilty. 

“We need to move on. To reopen this case would be opening a floodgate.” 

The five other speakers in the forum – Bar Council chairman Yeo Yang Poh, DAP chairman Karpal Singh, senior lawyer Tommy Thomas, National Human Rights Society (Hakam) president Malik Imtiaz Sarwar and Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang – however, remained adamant in believing otherwise.  

On Aug 8, 1988, Salleh and five Supreme Court judges were accused by the Government of misconduct. 

Tan Sri Azmi Kamaruddin, Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdoolcader and Tan Sri Wan Hamzah Mohamed Salleh were suspended. Their suspension was subsequently rescinded.  

Tan Sri Wan Sulaiman Pawanteh and Datuk George Seah were dismissed. 

Since then, Eusoffe and Wan Sulaiman have died and Seah is ill. 

Yeo said: “Just as the immunity of MPs in Parliament is crucial because of the task they perform, the security of the tenure of judges is equally important.” 

The legitimacy of the tribunal set up was also questioned.  

Karpal Singh said: “Among those who sat in the tribunal was then Chief Justice Tun Hamid Omar, who was second in line after Salleh, but he refused to disqualify himself. 

“That he was chairman of the tribunal contaminated everything. Also, how can you have Supreme Court (now Federal Court) judges being tried by High Court judges? It is so obvious there ought to be a review.”  

Nazri refuted Karpal Singh's argument by saying that as Lord President, there could not have been someone more senior than him (Salleh) to sit in the tribunal, to which Yeo replied:  

“If my memory does not fail me, I believe there were two living retired Lord Presidents (then) and also about eight or nine retired Supreme Court judges. 

“They would have been suitable to sit in the tribunal. 

“Not only is a review necessary, it is inevitable and only a matter of when. History has shown that truth will always surface.”  


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