Wednesday 4 March 2009

Perak Crisis: UMNO's Strangle-hold of the JUDICIARY Versus Pakatan Rakyat's LEGISLATURE with the Mandate of the Rakyat

Commerial Conflict of Interest, the Role of the Constitutional Monarchy to be seen above politics, UMNO's Brazen Abuse of Public Institutions, and a Patently Biased Judiciary which came about with the appointment of former UMNO party's Disciplinary Committee Chairman, Tan Sri Zaki Azmi as Chief Justice of Malaya, became tightly entangled. This not only caused but worsened the Perak Constitutional Crisis affecting Perakians and Malaysians in general.

The frustration of Malaysians across all divides is palpable and there is a sense of total helplessness when Public Institutions meant to uphold democracy were deliberately broken down or being subjugated to fulfill partisan political interests.

It is becoming clear that the success of the UMNO-led Government's nomination of Zaki Azmi to be the Chief Justice of Malaya is now paying HUGE dividends to UMNO in the current Constitutional Crisis in Perak.

It is ALL politics, and LITTLE about the Law and the Constitution.

Malaysians now realised , and angrily so, it is a total waste of their time to seek justice and neutrality in the Courts, given the Judiciary's blatant Pro-UMNO/BN bias ever since Tan Sri Zaki Azmi, and his predecessor, the disgraced Tun Fairuz, were made Chief Justices of Malaya.

The Judiciary has, by default, become an arm of the Executive. This is evidenced by the latest court's decisions seen as thwarting every move to hinder the mandates of the Perak State Legislature.

With Tan Sri Zaki Azmi, a former prominent UMNO man, as the boss of the Judiciary, it is NOT surprising for Judicial Commissioner Ridwan Ibrahim , as a junior member of the Bench, to NOT rule, and will not, against the political interest of UMNO.

Nor would any of the judges now sitting on the Bench under the charge of Chief Justice Zaki Azmi will have the courage to adjudicate against the political interests of UMNO.

Malaysians and Pakatan Rakyat lawyers will still line up in court having to go through the unproductive motion of attending court hearings and plead their cases in front of these fearful judges, normal individuals frightened of jeopardising their careers on the Bench. Such is the case for the Judicial Commissioner Ridwan Ibrahim, having had to do his unenviable task to adjudicate in this crisis with his political master, ie UMNO and his boss watching over his shoulders.

The Perak Constitutional Crisis is evidence that UMNO would use its incumbency in government to enforce its will on the Judiciary, the Public Institutions ie the Police and the Civil Service, to serve its political interest, and UMNO is willing to pay ANY price to get what it wants, even to the extent of subverting the legal process and the constitution.

And so it came to pass in the case in the Perak Constitutional Crisis involving the Pakatan Rakyat in recent days.

Pakatan Rakyat and any forces going against the political interest of UMNO when it is still at the helm of government, WILL lose. Here is why:

  1. The Judiciary is headed by a someone with deep ties to UMNO

    The current Chief Justice Zaki Azmi who was appointed as Chief Justice of Malaya on 21st October, 2008, was an UMNO member and served as a Legal Advisor to UMNO. His previous position in UMNO was as the Chairman of UMNO's Disciplinary Committee.

    His ties to UMNO is too deep for him to ensure the independence of the judiciary especially in cases involving the interest of UMNO or UMNO cronies. He has only served the judiciary for less than 5 years in total before becoming the Chief Justice, an unprecedented leap-frogging to the top post in the Judiciary with help of the UMNO-led Government.

    Asia Sentinel reported on 7 December, 2007:
    ".. As UMNO’s legal man, Tan Sri Zaki Azmi was involved with the UMNO's myriad scandalous financial misadventures that were bailed out by the government in the heydays of former Prime Minister Mahathir’s crony-capitalism during the last Asian financial crisis.

    One prominent example is the RM 3 billion loan scam in the disastrous acquisition of Philippines’ National Steel Corp. (NS) by UMNO’s financial proxy Halim Saad. When the shares of NS became scrap, four top Malaysian banks were made to stomach the entire RM 3 billion losses. And Zaki was then a director of the investment vehicle — Hottick Investment Ltd of Hong Kong — which borrowed the RM 3 billion and embarked on the acquisition of NS."
    Chief Justice Zaki Azmi even had the gall to publicly say, "It took me six months to be nice, to bribe each and every individual to get back into their good books before our files were being attended to". This was caught on audio-tape and made public by MP Karpal Singh. Read here for more

  2. The Chief Justice's prior commercial conflict of interests for government contracts

    His prior commercial interest in the railway specialist company called Emrail is linked to Gamuda. Gamuda is a company associated with the daughter of the Sultan of Perak in the North-South Railway track. On 14 December 2007, the UMNO-led Federal Government awarded Gamuda (GAMU.KL) and MMC Corp (MMCB.KL) a 12.5 billion ringgit ($3.8 billion) contract to build a two-track rail line linking the city of Ipoh with the Thai border.

    In 21 April 2007, Bernama reported Tan Sri Zaki Azmi was the former Chairman of the railway engineering specialist Emrail Sdn Bhd . The company won the contract for the 404 km trackworks of the Rawang-Ipoh Electrified Double-Tracking project as well as the civil and infrastructure work at eight of the raiway yards.

    Zaki, now the Chief Justice of Malaya, was then quoted as saying, " We hope the GOVERNMENT will consider us for tracking jobs for the Ipoh-Padang Besar as well as Seremban-Gemas projects."

    According to Asia Sentinel's report, "...apart from acting as UMNO’s nominee, Zaki also has held directorship in scores of major companies including some of the most well known names such as Berjaya, Metacorp, Pan Global, SP Setia, Malaysia Airports,Hume, Matsushita Electric, Pharmaniaga etc.

    Zaki was reported by Bernama on 21 April 2007 to have said that his 58% owned Emrail SdnBhd, a railway specialist company, had only the government as employer, and that he was earnestly soliciting contracts in the northern and southern portions of the double-tracking project to turn the cash-strapped Emrail around."

  3. Gamuda, Emrail, UMNO-led Government Contract Awards and the Perak Royal Household

    Stocktube website reported:
    ".. the largest shareholder of GAMUDA is also the second richest woman on the 2008 Forbes 40 Richest Malaysians at #35 spot. She is the daughter of the Sultan of Perak, Raja Azlan Shah, Raja Datuk Seri Eleena Raja Azlan Shah.

    She was worth RM773 Million ($228 Million) at #25 spot in 2007’s 40 Richest Malaysians but this figure dropped to RM510 Million ($150 Million) in 2008 at #35 spot.

    Malaysian politics is perhaps the dirtiest... on the business perspective, Gamuda is basically at the mercy of the Federal government.

    With water taps closed by the federal government to three of the most developed states, Selangor, Perak and Penang, Gamuda is screaming for projects from the Federal Government. " Read here for more

    Bernama also reported in April 2007 that work on the Ipoh-Padang Besar stretch, to be undertaken by the Malaysia Mining Corp Bhd and Gamuda Bhd consortium (MMC-Gamuda), was expected to begin as soon as the contract price is finalised.

    On 23rd September 2008, it is reported Zaki Azmi's former company Emrail's bid is one of four proposals under technical evaluation by MMC-Gamuda, the main contractor for the RM12.5 billion Ipoh-Padang Besar rail project, whose major share-holder is the daughter of the Sultan of Perak.

    The report quoted one source as saying, "Emrail could be the front runner for the job as it had successfully completed the Rawang-Ipoh job last year."

    The 329km Ipoh-Padang Besar double-track project cuts across the four northern states of Penang , Perak , Kedah and Perlis; prior to the Perak crisis, GAMUDA'S project cut across THREE Pakatan Rakyat states of Penang, Perak, and Kedah.

    This fact should be factored in to understand the context of the crisis, in particular the:

    • inexplicable decision of the Sultan of Perak to immediately install UMNO/BN government in Perak

    • refusal of the Perak Sultan to accede the call by MB Nizar for the dissolution of the state assembly

    • use of force in shutting down the State Secretariat in order to prevent the elected representatives to meet.

The Long term Impact of a UMNO-biased Judiciary on Malaysians' Constitutional Rights

Malaysians should not hold their breath to know how the court will rule in the hearing on March 5, when the three independents who left Pakatan Rakyat and now support Barisan Nasional, ask the court to quash the speaker’s decision to consider their state assembly seats vacant. Make a bet.

When one of the estates of democracy becomes an unwitting arm of the Executive, affirmed by the highly controversial appointment of one of UMNO's men as the Chief Justice of Malaya who has a history of commercial conflict of interest, and then coupled with a Monarch who is supposed to be above politics but perceived to be hamstrung by politically-related commercial conflict of interest by members of his Royal family, there is virtually NO hope for the Pakatan Rakyat or any political parties to win when faced with the political interests of UMNO/Barisan Nasional.

The ONLY hope left for Malaysians is for ALL voters to make its disgust known in the ballot box ONCE MORE , THIS time unequivocally and in NO uncertain terms.

The hypocrisy of MCA and MIC is manifested in their absolute silence in this constitutional crisis.

As for now, Malaysians should brace themselves for the long haul and learn to accept the fact that DEMOCRACY IN MALAYSIA IS DEAD IN THE WATER as long as UMNO remains the dominant force in government.

Related Article

High Court Declares Meeting of People's Elected Presentatives in the Perak State Assembly Illegal

Read here for more


The High Court here has declared as illegal this morning’s emergency sitting of the Perak State assembly which was held on a street under a tree.

The court granted the order restraining Speaker V Sivakumar from convening meetingspurporting to be meetings of the Perak legislative assembly” after accepting arguments that the immunity from judicial review stated in the federal constitution was only for proceedings in the state assembly.

After listening in chambers to lawyers representing BN-installed MB Datuk Zambry Abd Kadir and his executive council and the assistant state legal advisor Zulkarnain Hassan for two hours, Judicial Commissioner Ridwan Ibrahim granted the order at 5pm under Section 44 of the Specific Relief Act which grants the court the power to make orders to a public official.

The order is for an indefinite period of time.

When asked by reporters, Zambry’s lead counsel Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin said that the issue of a time did not arise as the speaker had no power to call for a sitting of the assembly as only the Sultan was authorised to do so under Article 36(1) of the Perak Constitution.

“There was no royal consent, so the meeting under the tree, remains just a meeting under the tree,” added Datuk Hafarizam Harun, Umno’s legal advisor, who is also part of the executive council’s legal team.

Earlier today Perak Speaker V Sivakumar convened an emergency sitting of the state assembly which effectively voted to end Zambry’s de facto Barisan Nasional (BN) government.

The court’s declaration was the latest development on an eventful day in which Perak’s administration was thrown into chaos with both BN and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) questioning the legitimacy of each other’s actions.

The State Secretary had earlier directed the closure of the building which houses the state assembly venue.

This morning, the same court had ruled that five lawyers, including constitutional expert Tommy Thomas, had no locus standi to represent the Perak Speaker in court.

The judge said the Speaker must be represented by the state legal advisor because he is part of the state government.

Firoz and Hafarizam however, refused to comment on the letter sent to Ridwan earlier whereby Sivakumar stated that he had not authorised nor communicated with the state legal advisor on this case as it “was not given to us.”

Sivakumar was represented in this afternoon’s proceedings by Zulkarnain, who insisted that there was no conflict of interest, despite the fact that the state legal advisor is defending Zambry in the ongoing case in the Kuala Lumpur High Court, where the legality of his appointment as menteri besar is being questioned.

We are looking after the interests of the government. Our duty as legal advisors is to advice the government,” he said.

However, he said that “I cannot recall” when pressed on who had raised the preliminary objection to the team of lawyers initially appointed by Sivakumar.

A statement by Thomas, who was the lead counsel for Sivakumar, had claimed that the complainant had raised the objection but it was supported by Zulkarnain.

A hearing date will be set by the court on March 5, which is also the day that the three independents who left Pakatan Rakyat and now support Barisan Nasional, will go to court to quash the speaker’s decision to consider their state assembly seats vacant.

Given today’s ruling, it is likely that Sivakumar will once again be represented by the state legal advisor.

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