It is too much for the rakyat to ask for a judiciary that is not only independent, but also seen as such? The three pillars of good government, the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary must be separated. The legislature legislates laws, the executive executes them, and the Judiciary checks its implementation.
But in a Westminster parliamentary system, we shouldn’t put too high a hope because the Prime Minister is the head of the legislature and at the same time heads the Cabinet which is the executive. These two entities are seamlessly interchangeable.
In Britain, the separation of powers rest squarely on the Judiciary.
In 1984, Clive Ponting, a senior civil servant in the Naval Affairs office after the Falklands War, was charged for leaking information to a Labour MP. Ponting’s bosses at the defence ministry had been systematically lying to the parliamentary committee investigating the sinking of the cruiser General Belgrano.
Ponting believed that when Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher ordered the attack on the Argentine cruiser, it was already leaving the war zone. There were 368 Argentine lives lost in the sinking, and many Britons were killed in reprisal.
Feeling that, two years later, a cover-up was still in effect, Ponting decided he owed a higher allegiance to truth and to Parliament than to his bureaucratic superiors.
Arrested and tried by the government, Ponting was eventually acquitted in a much-publicised trial at the Old Bailey by a jury of 12 men and women who, like their fellow citizens, saw no harm in a civil servants insisting on honesty in government.
In Malaysia, the Barisan Nasional leaders had reduced parliament into a rubber stamp. And with the sacking of Tun Salleh Abbas, had further provided Barisan leaders with near absolute judicial power. Now they can change and interpret laws as they please.
Just like in a quasi-democracy, the Malaysian Judiciary is seen as another extension of the Executive. Should we, the rakyat be contented with the state of affairs that we are in now?
With our neighbours’ democratic space expanding, Malaysia’s is shrinking. Even Burma is taking baby-steps towards the direction of democracy.
Apparently there is no reason whatsoever for the BN leaders to lead our country into the abyss of dictatorship. Only we can stop this trend through the ballot box.
“Whereas animals live by instinct and therefore do what they do directly, we can decide between alternatives, and this choice is possible because we can reflect on how we are going to act.” – George Grant in “Philosophy in the Mass Society.”
Thus don’t look the other way because the choice is ours!