Justice, or just us

Those who can make you believe absurdities; can make you commit atrocities. – Voltaire, French philosopher, writer and historian

There is an incubus living in our midst that voraciously forages on judicial misadventure, juridical misconduct, questionable legislation, corruption at all levels of the civil service, and moral turpitude.

This blood-thirsty elf is indestructible, and no bomoh nor Delphic oracle is able to bottle up this legendary mischief.

Voltaire pegged it right.

A corruption-free society is unthinkable and unholy when the “cash-is-king” mentality holds sway. Adherents, advocates and agents of this worsening counter-culture have successfully evoked great empathy and sympathy from the masses bought over by the hand-outs policies.

In America, those living under the grid, away from government radar, spell LAW as an acronym for “Let’s All Win,” and JUSTICE as Judges Usually Sell Their Integrity Callously Everyday — aptly documented in a book called “The Best Judges Money Can Buy.”

We had our share in Malaysia too with some unprincipled people who crossed the Rubicon with the help of some unscrupulous lawyers who threw caution to the monsoons. The price is still being paid with the roll of the judicial dice.

“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface . . . and it will rise up a thousand-fold in the future. . .” warned Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn in his seminal The Gulag Archipelago.”

When I hear the phrase “landless peasants” I hear the deafening roar of a law gone bonkers while justice bets heavily on insanity. If not for these peasants who till and work the land there will be no food speak of!

Charles Darwin in his Voyage of the Beagle observed that “if the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin, “obviously referring to the enduring unforgiving laws of karma”.

Landless peasants joined the PKI, the Indonesian Communist Party, that dictated Indonesian politics since 1945. They hold the balance of power with the Army. “Just us” stands to-to- toe with justice.

“Just us” in Malaysia takes on a very sinister role where constitutional ramifications are in place to parade, protect, preserve and propagate “equality” through a bizarre twist of events and unbelievable spins on justice where equality under the law becomes a trite statement for national unity.

Whether Malaysia will witness the selection and election of judges by direct vote of the rakyat is something that should prick right-thinking Malaysians. There can be no “independent judiciary” without the “just us” ethos by the electorate.

Justice versus “just us” found expression through Escar -Essential (Security Cases) Regulations — in 1976 when a 14-year-old was charged under the ISA for possessing a firearm and ammunition and sentenced to death.

The Malaysian Bar Council via an EGM Resolution called for Escar’s repeal with a pledge that lawyers should not appear in Escar cases. Ultimately, the 14-year-old escaped the gallows.

In 1986 two Malaysian lawyers were charged with sedition but acquitted. This was hailed as a vindication for free speech. Swiftly, in 1987, “just us” popped up with Operation Lalang when the ISA swung into action to detain opposition and social activists.

“Just us” became the government’s clarion call in 1988 with the sacking of the then Lord President and two senior judges. By 1990 a Bar Council AGM introduced mandatory professional indemnity insurance scheme to cover every law firm.

The FC, despite 57 reported constitutional amendments since 1957, is silent about judicial independence, although implied, but legislating judicial independence will make the judiciary subservient to Parliament.

Justice and “just us” performed the tango on a juridical pinhead in the infamous Ayer Molek case. In 1995, three trailblazing Court of Appeals judges wasted no time in declaring that the High Court indulged in perversion of justice as a “rotten” court.

Like a flightless phoenix, “just us” arose when the Federal Court unceremoniously overruled the Court of Appeals. Vindication for justice came in 2006 through a Court of Appeals which invalidated the Federal Court’s findings in Ayer Molek because it was illegally constituted with a High Court judge sitting in the apex court.

“There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice,” observed Montesquieu.

When Malaysia will mature as a judicially independent nation should become the committed business of a politically maturing People.

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune.