Report says Malaysian judges sent to 'boot camp' for indoctrination
Channelnewsasia, 11 June 2008
KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian judges were sent to an indoctrination "boot camp" and threatened with dismissal to pressure them into making pro-government decisions, a senior judge said according to reports Wednesday.
In explosive allegations made in open court, Justice Ian Chin also said he was threatened by former premier Mahathir Mohamad over high-profile cases, one involving a close associate of the then-leader.
"Now, though he is no longer the prime minister and so no longer able to carry out his threat to remove judges, the coalition party that he led is still around," he said, according to the Borneo Post.
Chin made the allegations, which were picked up by the national press Wednesday, before hearing a dispute over results of March general elections in Sarawak state on Borneo island.
He said he was targeted by Mahathir after refusing to award "astronomical" payouts in two libel cases in 1997, while a judge who agreed with the then-premier's views was promoted to the Federal Court.
Afterwards, Chin reportedly said he was packed off to a five-day boot camp with selected judges and judicial officers.
It was without any doubt "an attempt to indoctrinate those attending the boot camp to hold the view that the government interest as being more important than all else when we are considering our judgement," he said.
Cabinet minister Zaid Ibrahim, who is in charge of legal affairs, indicated he believed the allegations, and that they would harm the reputation of the nation's justice system.
"I can't say I'm surprised by the revelations. There have been many stories in the past," he told reporters.
"It is regrettable that it has happened, it is a bad reflection on our country. We have to make sure it does not happen again," he said. "You should not tell judges what they can or cannot do."
However, he dismissed calls from the Bar Council for an official probe into the allegations.
"An investigation will not reveal anything more than what we know. What we need to do is restore judicial independence and make sure such incidents do not happen," he said.
Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenavasan said the allegations were "both startling and damning."
"Judges, both present and past, must be encouraged to come forward and provide information on any such instances of interference so that further action may be taken," she said according to the New Straits Times.
Mahathir stood down in 2003 and his successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has been criticised for failing to carry out his promises to tackle corruption, which is deeply entrenched in politics and business.
Chin's allegations add to the pall cast over the country's judiciary by a recent royal commission into a sensational Mahathir-era video clip that showed a top lawyer brokering judicial appointments with the help of politicians.
The commission found in May that there was evidence of an "insidious" conspiracy to influence the appointment of judges, and the government promised to investigate those implicated.
Mahathir, who has fallen out with his successor and accused him of corruption and nepotism, has previously challenged the authorities to charge him.
His spokesman told AFP the former premier would respond to Chin's comments "in due course." - AFP
Singapore and Malaysia had almost identical political climate during the era of Lee Kuan Yew and Mahathir Mohamad; For example, the refusal to abolish the Internal security Act, the continual use of it on political opponents etc. That's not surprising, since the two of them grew up in the same political environment, studied in almost identical education system, and so on.
However, I want to emphasise that while many other things may be similar, the above newspaper report applies to Malaysia and only Malaysia. It obviously and clearly and surely does not apply to Singapore. In Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew has never ever subjected our most honourable judges to any boot camp, nor has he ever exerted even the slightest pressure on them to side with the government on political cases.
How do I know?
Well, I just know!
I do not have any evidence to refute any speculation that the same may have occurred, and is still occurring in Singapore. And I do not need to provide any evidence! Please understand that I am from a most trust-worthy organisation - Young Pay-And-Pay.
So, trust me!