MEDIA STATEMENT (10 March 2014)
BERSIH 2.0 is concerned about the impartiality and the independence of the judiciary in Malaysia. The judiciary plays a very important role in safeguarding the freedom and fairness of the electoral process because it is the bulwark against any violation of the constitutional right for a free and fair election. However, the manner in which the Court of Appeal conducted the appeal of Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy charges raises serious questions yet again as to the independence of the judiciary in Malaysia. Many Human Rights Organisations and International Observers, including the Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists, and the International Federation of Human Rights have expressed similar concerns.
Further, the fact that the appeal was brought forward from the original dates of 7 to 10 April 2014 to 6 to 7 March, just prior to the Kajang state constituency by-election, coupled with the haste in which the appeal was disposed of, casts further doubt as to whether all these were done for a collateral purpose – that is to prevent the democratic process of Anwar Ibrahim contesting in the Kajang state constituency by-election. This is in effect, notwithstanding any miscarriage of justice, a violation of Anwar Ibrahim’s constitutional right to contest in the Kajang state constituency by-election. Moreover, the disqualification of Anwar Ibrahim was on the basis of a charge for an archaic colonial offence under the Penal Code, which is contrary to international human rights standards, and has no place in this time and age. On that basis, this is also an affront to the democratic right of the voters in the Kajang state constituency because they are being deprived of an opportunity to be represented by a candidate of their choice.
The judiciary has disappointed the people once again as regards safeguarding free and fair elections. This follows a series of bad decisions such as:
1) the refusal to grant leave for application by elected representatives Charles Santiago and Nurul Izzah Anwar, separately, for judicial review of the decision of the Election Commission for refusing to cleanse the tainted electoral rolls.
2) the unjustified striking-off of the claim against the members of the Election Commission for misfeasance of public office by using defective “indelible” ink.
3) the striking-off of many election petitions on questionable grounds.
Wrongdoers will not be held accountable because the judiciary fails to carry out its constitutional oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, independently and impartially. Without an independent and impartial judiciary carrying out its constitutional duty, a free and fair election will remain an illusion.
Issued by: The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0, which comprises:
Maria Chin Abdullah (Chairperson), Dr Farouk Musa (Deputy Chairperson), Masjaliza Hamzah (Treasurer), Farhana Halim, New Sin Yew, Jannie Lasimbang (Sabah Vice-chair), Abd Halim b. Wan Ismail (East Peninsula Vice-chair), Thomas Fann (South Peninsula Vice-chair), Simon Lee Ying Wai (Central Peninsula Vice-chair) and Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon (North Peninsula Vice-chair).