All 3 former Chief Justices in S'pore were former Malaysians . . . !

The first, *Wee Chong Jin* was from Penang Free School.
The second, *Yong Pung How* (nicknamed the "Hanging judge"?) was an ex-VI boy in KL.

And the third, Ipoh-born *Chan Sek Keong*, hailed from King Edward VII School in Taiping, and later the Anderson School in Ipoh.

Had they remained in Malaysia, they might have made it to the level of a Sessions Court judge, if they are lucky. Our nation's loss is the little red dot's gain.

Note: CJ Chan wrote an average of 30 judgement a year, now compare that to Karpal's compliant that a Malaysian senior judge has yet to deliver his written judgement after 5 years . . .

The Ipoh boy who spoke no English... but rose to be Chief Justice .

This is an excerpt of a tribute delivered by Law Minister K. Shanmugam in Parliament on Monday to Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong, who retired on Nov 6.

SINGAPORE'S constitutional framework enshrines the rule of law, the independence of the courts and the separation of powers. The Constitution establishes the Judiciary as a separate and independent institution, and charges it with the responsibility to interpret the law and apply it to cases which come before the courts. At the head of the Judiciary is the Chief Justice. Through his judgments and extra-judicial writings, his presidency over appellate hearings and even his personal conduct, the Chief Justice sets the tone for the administration of justice in Singapore. It is a heavy responsibility, and Singapore has been singularly fortunate that, for the past six years, that responsibility has been discharged by Chief Justice Chan.

*Humble background * THE Chief Justice came from a humble background. He lived in a communal house in Ipoh, started his education late because of the war, and could not speak English when he first went to school. But adversity did not slow him down. He was one of the top students in the Senior Cambridge School Certificate in 1955, with eight distinctions...... Chief Justice Chan joined the inaugural LL.B. class of 1961 in the then University of Malaya, and was one of the top students in the class

* Private practice *CHIEF Justice Chan practised briefly in Kuala Lumpur then in Singapore because he wanted to continue to be with then his girlfriend, Elisabeth Eber, whom he later married. He was the counsel of choice for many banks and financial institutions, and drafted many of the standard banking and corporate documents used throughout Singapore in the late 1970s and in the 1980s.
*Judicial commissioner and judge * CHIEF Justice Chan was appointed a Judicial Commissioner (JC) in 1986 - the first person to be so appointed. He was later elevated to be a Judge in 1988. He heard a fair number of public law cases, and, in his own words, "the decisions are fairly divided between those decided for and against the Government". He had an excellent judicial temperament - no flourish, no hyperbole, no drama. He always cut to the chase, succinct. He was usually well ahead of counsel and on top of all the issues - a first-rate, world-class judicial mind.

* Attorney-General* IN 1992, Chief Justice Chan was appointed the third Attorney-General of Singapore. As Public Prosecutor, he had the constitutional responsibility for instituting and conducting prosecutions. He acted firmly and in the public interest. As Attorney-General, and later as Chief Justice, Chief Justice Chan played a leading role in the Pedra Branca litigation. He presented our case before the International Court of Justice in a very clear manner, together with Professor S. Jayakumar, Professor Tommy Koh and others. The ICJ decisively upheld Singapore's sovereignty over Pedra Branca. Chief Justice's personal interests - he is a keen student of history - helped substantially in presenting Singapore's case. His collection of South-east Asian history books, one of the largest in Singapore, was extensively used for the ICJ hearing.

*Chief Justice* Mr Chan was appointed as Chief Justice in 2006. He started the Young Amicus Curiae scheme where young lawyers could assist Judges hearing Magistrate's Appeals, and expose themselves to criminal work. He stressed the need for top- tier advocacy in commercial cases. He observed that top Senior Counsel were often retained by large institutions, rendering them unable or unavailable to act against such institutions. The result was that small law firms and individual clients who wanted representation against large institutions could not instruct Senior Counsel. He thus advocated that Queen's Counsel be allowed to appear more freely in our courts. He believed that the function of judges was to interpret and to apply the law, and not to legislate or make policy in the guise of adjudication. In that sense, he was a legal positivist. In the course of his judicial career, he wrote almost 380 judgments, or more than 30 a year. When the boy from Ipoh came to Singapore to study, settle down and start a career in the law, it was Singapore which ultimately benefited.

- The Straits Times Singapore


Subject: How the despicable Mamak hijacked Malaysia's judicial system...

This is Malaysian History. Every Malaysian must read and remember this event.


I must say I was flabbergasted to read the Mamak's statement that Anwar Ibrahim's intention to hold a rally against his conviction on January 9th was an attempt to attack the judiciary in Malaysia.

My dear Mamak, you were the one who wrote a poem Melayu Mudah Lupa (Malays Forget Easily) which ended with the words:

Ingatlah / Ingatlah / Ingatlah / Wahai bangsaku / Jangan mudah lupa lagi / Kerana perjuanganmu belum selesai
(Remember /Remember /Remember / O my people /Forget easily no more/Because your struggle is not yet over).

You also wrote a book with the same title.

So why have you forgotten so fast that you were the one who destroyed the Malaysian judiciary in 1988?

The story how you destroyed the career of Salleh Abbas, the then Lord President) is still fresh in the minds of Malaysians.

That legal saga had become the heinous story of how Malaysia had succumbed to the lowest of the lows in its legal history, which had become a really ugly international scandal.

What Anwar is doing, out of desperation, is to tell the world of the injustice of the way his Sodomy 1 and Sodomy II trials were carried out, has to be multiplied a million times to equal the gravity of what you have done to the Malaysian judiciary.

Rather than going into the ugly details myself, allow me to quote parts of the write up an unidentified online writer who summarised the facts from the book May Day for Justice by Salleh Abas with K. Das (Kuala Lumpur: Magnus Book, 1989) for the benefit of Malaysians who have missed the book.

How Mamak destroyed the Malaysian judiciary.

1. The destruction of judicial independence

Mamak was continually upset with the Judiciary because the verdicts in a number of cases went against the Government.

According to then Deputy PM, Musa Hitam, one of Mamak's favourite slogans was "Hang the Lawyers! Hang the Judges!"

From 1987, he intensified his verbal attacks against the Judiciary in the news media, making damaging statements which clearly demonstrated that he did not understand the role of the Judiciary as being independent from the Executive and Legislative arms of Government.

That the Judiciary exists as a check-and-balance against the excesses of the Executive appeared to have been a concept he never fully grasped.

Instead, he accused judges of the sort of political interference that would result in confusion and loss of public confidence in the Government.

Hence, to curtail the powers of the Judiciary and subsume it beneath the Executive became one of his cherished dreams.

In April 1987, after an UMNO leadership contest in which Mamak very nearly lost to Finance Minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, there were allegations that several delegates who had voted were drawn from branches not properly registered under the Societies Act 1966. An appeal was filed by eleven UMNO delegates to have the elections declared null and void.

This was a very serious matter for Mamak because if the appeal succeeded, fresh elections would have to be held and he might lose. The matter finally came before Justice Harun Hashim of KL High Court who ruled that under the existing law, he had no choice but to declare not just the elections invalid, but the whole of UMNO an unlawful society as well. The country and, more particularly, UMNO, went into a state of shock.

In most modern democracies, a political catastrophe of this magnitude would have resulted in the immediate resignation of the party's President and Prime Minister. But Mamak did not resign. He informed the country that the Government would continue running the country. Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang and Tunku Abdul Rahman called for a vote in Parliament to establish Mamak's legitimacy but those calls were ignored.

Mamak then set in motion the machinery to form a new surrogate party called UMNO Baru.

His opponents, however, wanted the old party revived.
The eleven UMNO delegates then launched an appeal in the Supreme Court to have the 1987 elections alone declared illegal and the party not an unlawful society.

Mamak fully understood the danger to him of this pending appeal. He had to act quickly.

In October 1987, he launched the notorious Operation Lalang in which at least 106 people were arrested and detained without trial under the ISA, including three very articulate critics, the Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang, political scientist Dr. Chandra Muzaffar and leading lawyer Karpal Singh.

The official reason for the arrests was that a highly dangerous security situation had arisen but this has been strongly disputed as nothing more than a shameless fabrication. The broad sweep included even environmentalists and Consumer Association spokesmen.

Four of the most outspoken newspapers - The Star, The Sunday Star, Watan and Sin Chew Jit Poh - had their publishing licences suspended. When, after five months, the papers were free to publish again, they were no longer the same.

Mamak's next move was to push through Parliament far-reaching amendments to the Constitution so that the Executive gained in power enormously at the expense of the Judiciary. There was general indignation at this rude behaviour which shocked a good many people. The indecent haste and the fact that the amendments were made at a time when the Government's main critics were in detention, including the Opposition Leader and six vocal MPs and outspoken newspapers demoralized added further to the appalling injustice of the situation. Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia's beloved first Prime Minister, put it succinctly: "It was legal, but was it just?"

Others noted angrily that the Constitution had been raped once again.

In a speech, the outgoing President of the Bar Council, Param Cumaraswamy, said:

"The Prime Ministe's vile and contemptuous allegations, and the accusations levelled at the Judiciary and our judges left many shocked beyond belief. His speech which was full of venom, hate and spite with no substance whatsoever, illustrated his complete and total ignorance of the role of the Judiciary and the judicial process itself. He has indeed defiled and defaced the Constitution. It is surprising that those 142 MPs who voted in favour, after taking the oath that they would preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, had no compunction about destroying one of its basic structures."

Next, after having curbed the independence of the Judiciary, Mamak set about destroying its integrity.

This was the removal of Salleh Abas as Lord President in 1988, a move which Tunku Abdul Rahman described as "the most shocking story in modern legal and judicial history,"

2. The destruction of judicial integrity

By March 1988, Mamak's scandalous and violent public attacks on the Judiciary had so provoked the judges that Salleh Abbas was obliged to call a conference. Twenty judges met in the Supreme Court one week after the debilitating and shameful Constitutional amendments were made.

By unanimous agreement, a letter was drafted to the King (also the Sultan of Johore) and copied to all Sultans, expressing disquiet over various comments made by the Prime Minister. The letter was delivered on 25 March. Three days later, Salleh Abbas was suspended from his official capacity by the King on
recommendation of the Prime Minister.

Salleh's suspension came after he refused to bow to Mamak's pressure to either resign or retire, even though financial inducements were offered, including mention of a lucrative job in the International Development Bank in Jeddah.

The initial reason given for the suspension was that the King had taken great displeasure over the letter Tun Salleh had written on behalf of all judges.

It is difficult to believe that the King wanted Tun Salleh removed purely because he had protested about the public insults directed against the entire Judiciary by the head of the Executive. In any event, royal displeasure would not be a constitutionally valid ground for dismissal. Indeed, Mamak advised the King as much in a letter written four days after this probably fictitious audience; however, the Prime Minister went further in the same letter to say that he would investigate Salleh for any evidence of misbehaviour.

In any event, the King did not clear up the mystery and, in an audience with Salleh, actually asked the latter to step down without giving reasons although the Conference of Rulers had already asked for his reinstatement.

Amazingly, Salleh was suspended and a Tribunal set up to determine his fate before any formal charges were laid.

The Constitution does not provide for the removal of a Lord President. While the Tribunal need not be an inappropriate means, its composition was to say the least, disgraceful. It was composed of six acting and retired judges, although the Constitution required an odd number to prevent a deadlock. Of these - four from Malaysia, one from Sri Lanka and one from Singapore - only the Sri Lankan enjoyed a rank comparable to Salleh's. This was contrary to the very reasonable dictum that one should be tried by one's peers rather than one's juniors.

The fact that two retired Lord Presidents of Malaysia were available but not invited was glaring. There were grave conflicts of interest with three of the Malaysian judges that should have disqualified them from sitting: Abdul Hamid who was next in line to succeed as Lord President and who had also participated in the conference of 20 judges which resulted in the letter to the King; Zahir who, being also the Speaker of the Lower House, was beholden to Mamak, the principal complainant in the matter at hand; and Abdul Aziz who, although a former judge, was then a practising lawyer and, more incredibly, had two suits pending against him at that time.

But Salleh's objections were ignored and when the Bar Council issued a statement calling for the Tribunal to be re-constituted, both the New Straits Times and The Star refused to publish it. Further, it was decided that the Tribunal would sit in closed sessions although Salleh had requested a public hearing.

The charges, when finally published, were manifestly absurd. Running over 12 sheets of paper, it was clear that quantity had been substituted where quality was lacking, and some of them actually related to Salleh's behaviour after suspension. Many of them related to his speeches and press interviews, whereby sinister meanings were imputed to various innocuous comments that he had made.

To cite an instance, in a speech at the University of Malaya, he had said: "The role of the courts is very important to bring about public order. If there is no public order there will be chaos in this country and if there is chaos, no one can feel safe." On this basis, Salleh was charged with making statements criticizing the Government which displayed prejudice and bias against the latter.

Another statement of his, "In a democratic system, the courts play a prominent role as agent of stability but they can perform this function only if judges are trusted," resulted in the charge that he had ridiculed the Government by imputing that it did not trust the judges.

These charges were doubly ludicrous in the light of Mamak's many poisonous attacks against the Judiciary.

It is not surprising that Salleh, after reading this catalogue of fantasy crimes, refused to appear before what was so evidently a kangaroo court.

The Tribunal, after refusing representations made by Raja Aziz, Salleh's leading counsel, that it had no constitutional validity to sit, chose instead to proceed so hastily that it wound up deliberations, including the examination of witnesses with just four hours work !

As it prepared to issue its Report, Salleh's lawyers sought an urgent stay of proceedings in the High Court.

This would normally be granted immediately at the least possibility that an injustice may be about to be done but, here, events turned into utter farce.

Instead of immediately reaching a decision as expected, the presiding judge, Ajaib Singh, after the court had been in languorous session the whole day that Friday, adjourned hearings for 9.30 am the next day. On Saturday however, the judge emerged in court only at 11.50 am and, even then, postponed hearings again for the Monday!

In desperation, Salleh's lawyers, knowing that the Tribunal could easily release its Report before then, sought the assistance of Supreme Court judge, Wan Suleiman, in his Chambers. The latter agreed to hear them in open court in half an hour's time and called a quorum of all remaining Supreme Court judges, one of whom, Hashim Yeop, refused to sit.

The soap opera reached an apogee of ridiculousness when Abdul Hamid, head of the Tribunal and Acting Lord President, gave orders for the doors of Supreme Court to be locked and for the seal of the Supreme Court to be secreted away !

Undeterred, the five Supreme Court judges ordered the policeman on duty to open the door forthwith.

After less than half an hour, the Court ordered the Tribunal not to submit any recommendation, report or advice to the King.
Salleh's lawyers were typing the Order to serve personally to the Tribunal at Parliament House when news arrived that the gates of Parliament House had been locked !

At this point, Justice Wan Suleiman rose to the occasion and, calling the office of the Inspector General of Police, told a senior officer that any impediment to serving the Order would constitute contempt of court.

The gates of Parliament swung open and, at 4 pm, Raja Aziz and his team served the Order to the Tribunal members who were found to be still hard at work on a word-processor that Saturday afternoon.

All six members accepted service without complaint.... four days later, all five Supreme Court judges were suspended.

Almost every rule that was broken to suspend Tun Salleh was broken again to suspend them.