“Why waste time and money to establish three redundant committees?”

THE Prime Minister has announced the formation of three committees. One to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the death of firefighter Mohd Adib Mohamad Kassim.

The second one in on former Attorney-General (AG) Tan Sri Tommy Thomas’ allegations made in his book about judicial abuse (appointment of judges, excessive executive interference in the judiciary and selective political prosecution).

Committee three is to look at Tort of Misfeasance or against those who are found to have been negligent for not pursuing a judicial review on the Pulau Batu Puteh case.

Unfortunately, the formation of the three committees reflects the Government’s pathetic inability to make wise decisions on important issues in the country. As they say, if you do not want to make decisions, form committees.

In July 2020, the police had already submitted investigation papers (IP) to the AG to charge 12 people for their involvement into Adib’s death.

Why was this not done?

You do not need a Government committee to do justice; you ask the AG. A phone call will do.

If the police had asked for another inquest at the same time, then you ask the Home Minister: did the police know what they were doing?

If they do not have enough evidence to charge anyone, say so.

Public or political pressure should not influence the decision of a professional police force.

I hope this special committee on Adib will not be used to “compel” the AG to make a decision.

The law gives the AG the discretion to decide to charge or not to charge anyone, based on evidence, and nothing else, without fear or favour.

The question is, does our AG has the qualities to do that? That is all we need to know.

On Thomas’ book, what he said was nothing new.

It is his book and he is entitled to express his opinions. If you do not like it, the do not read it.

There is absolutely no need to waste money on more findings.

Since the days of the infamous VK Lingam case (looks like me, sounds like me,  but it is not me), we have been grappling with issue of judicial independence.

Although things are better now, there is no guarantee that political interference by politicians has ceased entirely.

The royal commission on Lingam tapes recommended criminal actions be taken against those involved in “judge fixing” but the Government refused to act on the recommendations.

We have over the years several RCIs like Tun Dzaiddin Abdullah’s recommendations on police reforms and special committees on custodial deaths, foreign exchange losses at Bank Negara Malaysia and many more, but nothing by way of remedial actions were taken.

So, why do we want to waste more time and money to look good to the unsuspecting public by forming committees?

The third committee on Pulau Batu Puteh is the craziest of the lot. We lost the case on the sovereignty of Pedra Branca/ Pulau Batu Puteh (the lighthouse) fair and square.

Four judges of the International Court of Justice (by a comfortable majority) ruled in favour of Singapore but handled the Middle Rocks and South Ledge to Malaysia.

We won partly.

We did not lose everything as our emotional leaders were fond of saying.

Witch-hunt may backfire

What tort of misfeasance are they talking about?

Do they want to find fault and blame former AG Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail?

What review Tan Sri Apandi Ali and the battery of new international lawyers (that will cost us a few million US dollars ) can do to benefit the country? Nothing at all!

Gani (a good lawyer) engaged some well-known international law experts during the trial, and our witnesses were the best we had.

We just lost the case after three full days of arguments.

By the way, no one is competent around here to do a “judicial review” of a complex international law issues that took the ICJ months to investigate and deliberate; which depended on history and incomplete documentation to boot.

It will be bad precedent if this Apandi committee was formed to find fault with his predecessor Gani and the AGC at that time because one day there will be another special committee to look at Apandi’s and Tan Sri Idrus Harun ‘s “tort of misfeasance”.

Do we expect this committee to also find fault with the Assistant Johor State Secretary, who in 1953, wrote a letter to the effect that Johor had no claim on Pedra Branca? What good will this do?

I think the prime minister has to be more careful with the advise he gets from his UMNO colleagues, who may have “other reasons “for going against certain former decision-makers in the country.

The premier must realise that if we take too much time looking back; we will have little left to move forward. – Oct 12, 2021.

 

Datuk Zaid Ibrahim is a former Law Minister.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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