Press release (17th February, 2019): RCI Must Be Constituted to Look into Management of Redelineation Cases and to Restore Confidence in Judiciary

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) echoes the call of many for a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to be setup to investigate incidents of judicial interference as alleged by Justice Hamid Sultan Abu Backer, a sitting Court of Appeal judge, in his affidavit. 

In his affidavit, Justice Hamid stated that “top judges” manipulated the corum of judges hearing constitutional cases and public interest cases like the boundary delineation, sedition and peaceful assembly cases.

This explosive allegation does not surprise Bersih 2.0 as all cases brought about by affected voters in Perak, Malacca, Johor and by state governments of Selangor and Penang, failed in their challenges to halt the 6th redelineation exercise by the Election Commission (EC) despite strong constitutional grounds and evidences of malapportioment, gerrymandering and electoral roll irregularities.

When the redelineation cases went up to the appeal courts, there was always a special panel which hears this and they are often the same judges and the outcomes were always the same: rejection of the appeals. These legal challenges were disposed of speedily, as if to ensure that the EC’s recommendations would make it in time for GE14. Though we do not have concrete proof, these are patterns which raise reasonable suspicions of judicial interference at the highest level.

Bersih 2.0 wishes to remind the Pakatan Harapan government that the judicial and legal institutions are an important check and balance mechanism in the country. These institutions must be independent and they must have integrity, so that they are trusted by the people and they must be free from executive interference or corruption.

While we applaud the steps taken to ensure the appointment of judges are removed from the influence of the Prime Minister and that a parliamentary select committee will decide appointments to the Judicial Appointments Commission, the misconducts of past judges need to be investigated and if found guilty, they have to be held accountable. This would also allow gross miscarriages of justice in cases heard by them to be reviewed in order to restore justice and confidence in the Judiciary.

Bersih 2.0 also call on more judges and other witnesses to come forward to provide evidence of judicial interference they have encountered and for the government to accord protection to these informants under the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010, where their identity will be kept confidential if necessary, their complaints investigated and actions taken against those who had abused their positions.

Failure on the part of the PH government to form a RCI to look into judicial interference would not only undermine confidence in the Judiciary but also in the PH government’s commitment to justice and the rule of law.  Constitute the RCI without delay!

Statement issued by:

The Steering Committee of Bersih 2.0