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Monday, July 31, 2017

'If polls favour Najib, I may meditate on a mountain and not question AG again'

Of course there have been many decisions by courts all over the world that were viewed as totally and absolutely ridiculous, hence the expression "the law is an ass".
Nothing, however, can match the absurdity of the decision of chief justice Md Raus Sharif to deny me leave to challenge the discretion of attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali in not prosecuting Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
So that lay readers can appreciate my point, all I was asking for was leave (that is, the permission of the court) to start an action against the attorney-general.
I don't have to prove anything at this stage - the settled law is that I just need to show that there are serious questions to be considered. The threshold is low and generally, all over the world, leave will be granted without much fuss.
Yet, I could not even pass the gate. What's going on?
I know that we cannot question God but it seems that we have to add a few more to the list, such as the prime minister, the home minister, the National Fatwa Council and now also the attorney-general.
Furthermore, the chief justice himself presided over this simple application for leave. Isn't that strange? Why does a simple application need the top gun?
PM's handpicked CJ
To be fair, I wasn't happy that Raus was on the panel because I had openly disagreed with his appointment as chief justice. The disagreement was nothing personal - Raus is a likeable man - but I believe our beleaguered prime minister handpicked Raus as chief justice to protect himself.
Not only does the law bar a chief justice from remaining on the bench after the age of 66, and six months, I also believe Najib chose Raus for personal reasons. Even the selection process is questionable.
Perhaps he thinks Raus will be sympathetic to him, or maybe he thinks Raus understands his lofty mission for the country, just as Apandi does.
So, when the likeable Raus accepted Najib's overture and agreed to be the chief justice for another three years, I was worried that he would be biased against me in this case. That's why I asked my counsel, Gopal Sri Ram, to persuade Raus to recuse himself.
I hope that the chief justice will think about this matter again. Let the law on leave applications to refer any question to the Federal Court stand as a simple matter.
Just because my application involves the prime minister and his attorney-general should not change the standard or qualifying threshold. Let the avenue to the Federal Court be freely available without too much restriction.
Mountain to climb
The chief justice need not be unduly worried because even if I am successful in the leave application, I still have a mountain to climb to prove my allegation that there has been a huge cover-up by the attorney-general to protect the prime minister and hence had improperly exercised his discretionary powers under the constitution.
Why should the chief justice get entangled in this simple matter at great risk to the reputation of his own office?
Ordinary Malaysians might think that, in rejecting my application, Raus might be biased against me. Some might even say that he is seeking to "protect" the prime minister.
I have therefore asked my counsel to seek a review of the decision of the Federal Court on the ground of perceived bias. I hope the judges of the Federal Court will hear me as I have some serious questions for them to consider.
After all, even if the court decides to grant me leave, the substantive issues will be heard much later, long after the election results are known.
This would also make it easier for me to reconsider my application, especially if the overwhelming majority of voters in this country show that they believe that the prime minister did no wrong and that the attorney-general exercised his powers properly in not prosecuting him.

If that eventuates, I might just go and meditate in the mountains and never question the attorney-general again.

ZAID IBRAHIM is a former law minister and Umno politician. He is presently a member of DAP.- Mkini

1 comment:

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