Friday, 18 April 2008

Axis Shift

(Image reproduced from The Star, without permission, but in accordance with the principles of fair use.)

Occasionally I feel as though the Earth has shifted on its axis since the General Elections. I have never thought it possible to witness in my lifetime the current government making amends for its past transgressions. The ex-gratia payments to the judges who were affected by the 1988 Judicial Crisis may fall short of an official apology, but it does demonstrate a degree of humility and a willingness to put things right. 20 years is a long time to wait for an apology that is not forthcoming.

20 years ago, our judiciary was seen as a venerable institution. Our then Lord President, Tun Salleh Abas, was sacked by the then PM for attempting to uphold justice and the principles of separation of powers and an independent judiciary. Since then, the subsequent Chief Judges were largely political appointees who lacked the integrity and acuity of their predecessors and failed to inspire confidence in those who sought redress in the courts of law. Judges were seen as corrupt and corruptible flunkeys of the executive.

I do realise that this move by the current Prime Minister is an ingratiating attempt to win back some popular support, and to thumb his nose at the previous PM, but it is still a heartening gesture and being irreversible, sets a good precedent.
Our collective wish is to see a better, more honest civil service and an intelligent, impartial and honourable judiciary.

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