“A judge simply cannot be seen doing in public what he (or she) thinks is permissible. He (or she) has to consider the broader implications of his (or her) actions even if those actions are well intended. One simply cannot surmise that because it is ok for a commoner to dance, there is nothing wrong if a judge were to do the same in public. The legal profession is such, that the actions of its practitioners reflect on judiciary and how members of public perceive it. At the end of the day, what matters most is not how well intentioned a judge is, but how well intentioned people think he (or she) is”
Raggie Jessy Rithaudeen
Not many are aware, that judicial ethics are integral to codes of conduct expected of judges, lawyers and those directly or indirectly associated with judiciary. These ethics comprise of standard practices and norms that bear heavily on judges and the principle of power separation. They cover such concerns as how one can maintain the independence and impartiality of judiciary by avoiding behaviour that leads to misconception, misrepresentation, confusion and misinterpretation.
For instance, Canon 2 of the Code of Conduct for Judges in the United States (US) dictates that a judge should respect and comply with law at all times and act in ways that promote public confidence, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. It’s quite the same everywhere else in the world, be it in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia or New Zealand. In Malaysia, the British Westminster system on which the government is based draws a fuzzy line between legislature and executive, in that members of the executive happen also to be Members of Parliament (MPs).
It follows, that the role of the judiciary in preserving democracy is all the more crucial in Malaysia than it is in the US or in Canada. Here, we need judges and lawyers to keep in check the all too powerful executive-legislature complex that clearly lacks separation of powers in the strictest sense. The UK’s Guide to Judicial Conduct on which a similar guide in Malaysia is based requires that judges be careful about the nature and extent of their involvement in outside activity. Such care is necessary to prevent wrong signals from being sent to the people and essential in maintaining the independence, integrity an stability of the judiciary.
So you see, a judge simply cannot be seen doing in public what he (or she) thinks is permissible. He (or she) has to consider the broader implications of his (or her) actions even if those actions are well intended. One simply cannot surmise that because it is ok for a commoner to dance, there is nothing wrong if a judge were to do the same in public. The legal profession is such, that the actions of its practitioners reflect on judiciary and how members of public perceive it. At the end of the day, what matters most is not how well intentioned a judge is, but how well intentioned people think he (or she) is.
That, in essence, is what the fuss about Tommy Thomas and Richard Malanjum doing the cha-cha all boils down to. Recently, the duo was spotted bogeying on stage together with controversial lawyer-cum-activist Siti Kassim (see video below). These are among the highest ranking of office bearers we’re talking about, with Richard being the head of the Malaysian judiciary and Tommy, the principal legal advisor to the Government of Malaysia (GoM). There is no version of this in which the duo can come off unscathed thinking that the integrity of our judiciary is still in tact.
Due to their actions, the Malaysian system of justice now hangs in the balance, particularly since a minister in the Prime Minister’s department was himself seen doing the jiggy with them. That immediately brings to question the ability of our judges to keep in check the executive-legislature complex. There is no more telling if Tommy Thomas and Richard Malanjum are working with the PMO to ‘legalise’ crimes committed by ministers. The curious case of Lim Guan Eng serves to drive that point home and demonstrates just why the people are fed up with the way Tommy and Richard are doing things.
On the 12thof September 2018, through a video recording, I spoke of a secret meeting that took place between Lim, Richard and Tommy (see video below). The meeting, held on the night of the 2ndof September 2018, was attended also by the lead prosecutor in Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak’s corruption trial, Dato’ Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria. The day after the meeting, the Attorney-General’s Chamber (AGC) withdrew its corruption charges against Guan Eng on grounds that its case had “collapsed beyond repair.”
On the 9thof September 2018, Tun Abdul Hanif Mohamad wrote:
“On August 2, 2018 Tommy Thomas issued a statement that he would not be involved in the decision whether or not to further prosecute Lim Guan Eng. We came to know later that he had appointed Dato’ Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria (Dato’ Hanafiah) Head of the Appellate and Trial Division of the AGC, the new name for the division I was heading thirty years earlier, to do the job for him. As head of a division, in the AGC hierarchy, he is on the third layer, with AG on the first later, the Solicitors General on the second layer.
“Do you think he does not know that Tommy Thomas was the counsel for Lim Guan Eng in that case immediately before his appointment as AG? Do you think he does not know that Lim Guan Eng is the Minister of Finance? Do you think he does not know that that if Lim Guan Eng is convicted, most probably he will lose his job? Do you think he does not know that Tommy Thomas was the DAP’s candidate for AG? Do you think he would not perceive the reason for his appointment? Do you think he would not perceive, rightly or wrongly, the decision Tommy Thomas would prefer? Do you think he does not know that his promotion depends on Tommy Thomas?”
The complainant in Lim’s corruption trial was Mushin Abdul Latheef. On the 5th of September 2018, Mushin questioned the prosecution for not requesting a postponement of the case instead of withdrawing it. According to his lawyers, deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Datuk Mohd Masri Daud had no reason to demand a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) if indeed the prosecution’s case had collapsed beyond repair.
“On the other hand, if Datuk Masri needs a breather so that he could reorganise his strategies, then he should have asked for a further postponement, instead of exercising his power to withdraw the charge under section 254(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
“Had Datuk Masri asked for a postponement, the Honourable Judge either will grant the said postponement or order a DNAA.
There is no option for the Honourable Judge in such case to order an acquittal. We are unable to fathom why such approach was not considered by the Attorney General’s Chambers,” the lawyers said.
These questionable decisions taken by Tommy Thomas and his AGC put the entire system of justice in a rapid tailspin, raising suspicion that the judiciary was in collusion with the PMO to whitewash crimes involving ministers. The recent stunt Tommy pulled with Richard Malanjum, Siti Kassim and a minister from the PMO has fuelled that suspicion, leaving many convinced that the separation of power between the judiciary and the legislature-executive complex no longer exists within the broader Mahathir administration.
Pergerakan Malaysiaku Tanahairku (PMT) takes these developments very seriously and will undertake to lodge a police report against Tommy in Petaling Jaya. The report will include the recent stunt Tommy pulled with Richard and the secret meeting he had with Lim. I will raise some points contained in an earlier report I lodged that had to do with the seizure of the luxury cruise liner Equanimity (see report below). By 8 pm today (21st of January 2019), I will make public the exact time and date of the intended report and the specifics to the press conference due to follow.
Raggie Jessy Rithaudeen, Chairman, Pergerakan Malaysiaku Tanahairku and Gagasan Tiga (G3)