Zaid Ibrahim and his mistaken agenda

Datuk Zaid Ibrahim speaks again! This time at the 13th Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institution last week. For a start, he wants the government to take human rights seriously.

Everytime I read about Zaid Ibrahim, I was reminded about several issues which kept popping in my head; the ex gratia money issue and his ‘myopia’ on certain matters.

Barely 5 days after he was appointed by his boss to be the minister in charge of the law, he showed his ability to unilaterally pass his judgment by expressing his personal agenda without the consent of the Cabinet.

First, he wanted the Government to apologise to the 5 judges suspended and 3 who were sacked in 1988. Then, he gave the money to all the 5 judges, including those who did not get sacked.

Was there a request by the judges to review the sentence passed by the Tribunal back in 1988? If there was, it would be ironic that Tun Salleh himself would want the government to revisit and thus review the decision. This is because, Tun Salleh himself had precariously chose not to attend any of the tribunal proceedings back in 1988.

Incidentally, Zaid Ibrahim too chose not to attend any hearing regarding his money politics allegations in 2006. Since then, he was suspended for 18 months. I guess he would like to emulate Tun Salleh Abas. When he was told that he cannot lead Kota Bharu Umno after the suspension, he began to criticise Pak Lah and the government. When he was dropped as a BN candidate in the 12th general election, he flew to Australia in a huff. It was also alleged that he sabotaged the BN machinery in Kota Bharu by helping the local PAS election machinery.

Coming back to the ex gratia debacle, if there was no request by the ex judges, then why did Zaid Ibrahim act unilaterally and arbitrarily? And the fact that the ex judges do not want to disclose the amount they received really irks me. If they are not ashamed to receive the ‘wang rakyat’, then why are they reluctant to disclose the amount?

Tak segan terima tapi segan nak beritahu jumlahnya? It is a matter of principle. IF they have one.  It seems that the call for transparency does not apply to those who should champion it.

Then there was the matter concerning Judge Ian Chin. When the said judge first made his allegations of ‘thinly veiled’ threat on the judiciary by the former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Zaid Ibrahim was among the first to give his comments. It was very disappointing that a learned lawyer like him chose to jumped the gun and joined the critics over the unfounded allegations.

It is strange that although he was among the first to say a tribunal should be set up over the VK Lingam case, but in the obvious misconduct by a top judge such as Ian Chin, he intensely oppose the creation of a tribunal to investigate Ian Chin. Why the double standard? Even Karpal Singh called for Ian Chin’s termination!

Speaking of which, what happened to the police report filed by Matthias Chang against Ian Chin? Was there no follow up by the police? It is known that since Dr Mahathir is the bête noir of the current government, any act to exonerate the ex premier will be slow in process. In fact, any reports, be it to the police or the ACA pertaining the apparent wrong doings by the government, had proven to be unfruitful. A reality which Tun Dr Mahathir did not fail to recognise.

Zaid Ibrahim, who was known to be one of the main critic of Pak Lah before his appointment as the de facto Law Minister, suddenly became very quiet in criticising his boss. Although this is not surprising, his deliberate criticisms towards Tun Dr Mahathir raised a few highbrows within Umno’s circles. He was very much echoing the Bar Council’s sentiments especially after the findings of the VK Lingam tribunal was made public.

In fact, as the de facto Law Minister, Zaid Ibrahim should be in the front line chastising the Bar Council for practising partisanship. For instance, Datuk Ambiga in her press statement right after Saiful’s medical note from the Pusrawi Hospital was leaked, launched herself into a tirade of lambasting the Malaysian authorities and questioning the credibility of the Malaysian judicial system. Nevermind that she did not do a thorough investigation of the medical note or even ascertain the authenticity of it, she did not even see anything wrong when an apparent law was broken when the confidential information in the medical note was illegally obtained. In the end, the medical note did not even free Anwar from the alleged sodomy report.

Is Datuk Ambiga running for politics anytime soon? I believe lawyers should be professional in everything that they do. Lawyers in their professional capacity, should remain apolitical and be fair in making statements. If lawyers too are blinded by politics, then they should not even shout about the alleged non independence of the judiciary since the lawyers themselves are not independent!

Zaid Ibrahim should seriously look into this before the Bar Council decided to become the fifth column. In 1991, when he was the member of the Bar Council, he actually told the Bar Council to be more objective in their assessment on any current issues. Maybe he should tell Datuk Ambiga exactly the same what he said 17 years ago.

Zaid Ibrahim, who became a powerful Minister through the Umno ticket; who actually became a Minister without even contesting in the recent general election, should count his lucky stars that the Malay party proved to be the perfect platform to climb up the political ladder albeit through the backdoor. No current Umno members had it so good except for him.

Therefore, he should at the very least live up to Umno’s aspirations and pay more attention to the Malay Agenda. Are all his statements and decisions after being selected to be the de facto Law Minister going to be beneficial to the Malays in general?

I conclude this article with an excerpt from Tan Sri Sanusi Junid’s writings regarding the fundamental nature of the Special Rights of the Malays and its relationship with the judiciary. It is imperative to point out that the Malay rights, here in Malaysia is a part of human rights too. It is hoped that Zaid Ibrahim will remember his roots and think about where he is heading.

10. Tujuan Hak Istimewa Orang-orang Melayu

10.1. Adanya ‘hak istimewa orang-orang Melayu’ di dalam perlembagaan adalah satu persetujuan sejarah yang tidak bertujuan untuk bersikap tidak adil kepada kaum yang bukan Melayu.

10.2. Sebaliknya ‘hak’ ini bertujuan untuk menjamin keamanan negara dengan mengimbangkan kedudukan dominan orang bukan Melayu dalam bidang pendidikan dan swasta.

10.3. Hanya melalui pemberian layanan istimewa kepada orang Melayu, keamanan dan keseimbangan kerajaan di bawah pimpinan Melayu, terjamin.

10.4. Jaminan ini bergantung kepada harapan orang Melayu dalam mempertahankan Perlembagaan.

11. Usaha Mempertahankan Harapan Dengan Mempertahankan Perlembagaan

11.1. Harapan dari ‘keistimewaan’ ini pula hanya boleh dipertahankan oleh;

  • Institusi Politik yang menguasai pentadbiran;
  • Institusi Raja berpelembagaan yang melindungi Agama;
  • Sistem Kehakiman

11.2. Ketiga faktor diatas menjelaskan institusi politiklah yang menjadi penentu keamanan, kerana institusi politiklah yang mempertahankan Raja Berpelembagaan dan Sistem Kehakiman. Dengan terancamnya institusi politik, Hak Keistimewa Orang Melayu, dan Islam sebagai agama rasmi, serta harapan orang Melayu tercabar.

11.3. Cabaran ini hanya boleh dihadapi jika Sistem Kehakiman kita mantap, dan Hakim yang ada memahami semangat perlembagaan dan akan mempertahankannya.

12. Hubungan Hak Keistimewaan Orang-Orang Melayu dan Sistem Kehakiman

12.1. Hak Keistimewaan Orang Melayu ini dianggap oleh yang anti-Melayu sebagai tidak adil.

12.2. Konsep keadilan diputuskan oleh mahkamah.

12.3. Jaminan kekalnya hak ini bergantung kepada tafsiran hakim yang memutuskannya.

12.4. Jika hakim tidak menyumbang kepada idea ‘Hak Keistimewaan Orang Melayu’ maka hanya kekuatan politik sajalah yang menjadi penentu.

12.5. Jika institusi politik Melayu itu lemah maka ianya perlu diperkuatkan. Kebimbangan rakyat telah disuarakan melalui keputusan pilihan raya yang terakhir ini.

12.6. Adakah kita ingin menunggu keputusan rakyat menukar institusi politik yang ada dengan yang lain.

12.7. Penjelasan yang panjang lebar mengenai ‘Hak Keistimewaan Orang Melayu’ ini adalah penting agar masyarakat Melayu dapat memahami apa yang perlu diperjuangkan.