Friday, April 18, 2008

So where's Tun Hamid Omar?

“No nation can call itself fair and just without an efficient and trusted judiciary. By 'trusted', I mean a judiciary that delivers justice and is seen to deliver justice. In Malaysia's case, debates and arguments on the state of our judiciary have been heated and protracted.

"Some of the Malay Rulers have openly voiced their disquiet on what they see as a decline, requiring nothing short of a judicial renaissance. Some retired judges have related troubling tales of impropriety. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have called for reform of this most august institution. Even the Bar Council, true to form, has marched en masse outside my office…."

“But the fact is, we can no longer leave such an important institution to hope and chance. The system must have built-in safeguards to prevent potential abuse and it must have a process that will convincingly identify the best legal minds in the country to join the judiciary. This is a necessary part of ensuring that our nation's judiciary is robust and trusted by the people."

So says PM Abdullah. I appreciate that our PM has his back against the wall. But I shall not let my cynicism rubbish what could possibly be an historic ‘Dinner for Justice’ as some lawyers have dubbed this evening’s conciliatory gathering.

That the man found a conscience belatedly is not the point. The fact is, it certainly would not have happened without a fortuitous convergence of events leading to March 8. The least optimistic rakyat (among whom I count myself) must take heart that yes, even in a less than perfect system, our votes can make things happen when we purpose to vote collectively for change.

I do wonder about Tun Hamid Omar. He was Acting Lord President, Chief Justice and Judge of the Supreme Court of Malaysia, and the then PM Dr M's contemptible axeman in the 1988 judicial scandal. [More]

On an evening such as this where amends for wrong were offered and perpetrators were conspicuously left unnamed, he must cut a pitiful figure, unlamented and uninvited. Relegated to the dustbin of history (where another ex-CJ Tun Ahmad Fairuz seems destined), Hamid Omar will remain a tragic footnote in the annals of our nation’s tumultuous struggle for her soul.

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