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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

LOOKING FOR FAVORS: Najib at hush-hush Judges Conference dinner?

LOOKING FOR FAVORS: Najib at hush-hush Judges Conference dinner?
Security is unusually high at the Kuala Lumpur Shangri-La Hotel, fuelling speculation that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is attending the Judges Conference dinner tonight.
There were scores of policemen in uniform and plainclothes. The event is not listed ‎in Najib's official schedule released to the press.
Malaysiakini's photographer was escorted away from the area near the hotel ballroom by policemen and barred from taking any photographs.
Najib is believed to be at the dinner along with de facto Law Minister Nancy Shukri, but organisers have refused to confirm this.
The media have been asking organisers about the event since yesterday, following the conference launch by Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria but it has been kept under wraps.
If Najib indeed in attendance, it will be the first time that a PM is attending a Judges Conference event in more than a decade.
The‎ last time was during the 1990's when then premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad attended.
Malaysia practices the principles of separation of powers between the executive, legislature and the judiciary and the PM's mingling with the judges may raise eyebrows.
Pending cases involving Najib and Rosmah
Former United Nations special rapporteur for Independence of Judges and former Malaysian Bar president Param Cumaraswamy said it is alright for Najib to be seen among the judges, but pending cases which involve Najib complicate matters.
"Currently the PM and his wife (Rosmah Mansor) are litigants in defamation suits filed by them.
"The PM should not have been invited to avoid public perception of want of judicial independence in the adjudication of the suits," he told Malaysiakini when contacted.
He said it would have been better if the heads of the legislature, the speakers of the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara were also invited.
It is unknown if the Speakers of the two houses were also present in the dinner.
Najib has filed suits against DAP's national publicity secretary and Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua and PAS mouthpiece Harakah over the allegations made against the PM's pet project 1Malaysia Development Bhd.
The PM as Umno president has also filed a suit against Malaysiakini following two articles which compiled readers' comments regarding the Terengganu menteri besar crisis last year.
Najib and Rosmah have jointly-filed a suit against PKR vice president and Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli, over his allegedly defamatory quip that government funds earlier used for fuel subsidy was instead used to buy a Rosmah's ring
'Do it openly'
Lawyer Sivarasa Rasiah, also a PKR MP, told Malaysiakini that in principle there was nothing wrong about the PM meeting the judges in open for ceremonial occassions or even for policy discussions.
"However, it is best that such meetings are done transparently to minimise speculation that the judiciary wants to hobnob with the executive.
"This particular meeting seems to secretive, hush-hush and closed door, and will lead to unhealthy speculation especially in the aftermath of the Anwar Ibrahim (Sodomy II) case and other cases,” he said.
Justice Arifin has in speeches, including one delivered yesterday, emphasised the importance of an independent judiciary, stressing that the judiciary and media should be free
Mahathir had no lawsuits pending when he attended the Judges Conference in the 1990s. - Mkini

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