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You can always tell when elections are around the corner by the wild rumours and slanderous allegations that start proliferating like maggots on a carcass. It’s no different this time around with breaking news of a conspiracy between certain political leaders and the Chief Justice to target UMNO politicians by expediting their court cases, as well as allegations that the judge who presided over Najib Tun Razak’s SRC trial had “unexplained wealth”.

The thrust behind these allegations is the fake and fabricated notion that the courts have been weaponised against UMNO and its leaders. It is part of a wider campaign to convince the public that all those UMNO leaders charged with, or convicted of, corruption are but innocent victims of a grand political conspiracy. It is part of the same strategy behind the push for early elections in the hope of fore-stalling the ongoing trials of those same leaders.

A closer examination of the allegations will quickly confirm that they are frivolous, malicious and mischievous and cannot and should not be taken seriously at all. Take, for example, the supposedly leaked minutes of a PAS meeting in which its leaders talked about conspiring with the judiciary to expedite the on-going trials of UMNO leaders. Who in their right mind will believe that PAS can exert that kind of influence over the highest levels of our judiciary? I have made no secret of my disdain for PAS – they are capable of doing many insidious things – but this is simply too far-fetched to be believed. 

In any event, I will take the word of the courts – that “the chief justice has never communicated with, and/or been contacted by, any political leaders in relation to court cases involving Dato Seri Najib bin Tun Razak and Dato Seri Ahmad Zahid bin Hamidi” – over anything that corrupt, dishonest and self-serving politicians have to say. 

And as for the scandalous allegations against Justice Nazlan Mohd Ghazali – an upright and honest judge as ever there was – by a hired scoundrel dishing out slander from the safety of a foreign land, what I have to say cannot be printed.

Many will, no doubt, find it equally outrageous that Azam Baki, the MACC chief, would even lend credence to such egregious and malicious allegations by initiating investigations against Justice Nazlan. You can bet that nothing will come out of it, but the damage to Justice Nazlan’s reputation would have been done. And perhaps that is the point of the whole exercise. 

Instead of investigating the judge, Azam should step down and allow a full, transparent and credible investigation into his own unexplained wealth arising out of his share ownership case a few months ago. 

More than anything else, the allegations against the judiciary show just how far desperate men are willing to go to destroy one of the last credible institutions left in our nation. When the judiciary stood in Tun Dr Mahathir’s way, he had some of the finest judges in the land unceremoniously removed from office on trumped-up charges. It has taken the judiciary a long time to recover from that body blow. Now unscrupulous politicians are at it again – smearing our judges for their own nefarious ends. It is a new low even for a country accustomed to dishonourable behaviour.

Surprisingly, the reaction of the Bar Council has been disappointing. Instead of a forthright defence of the integrity of the judiciary and Justice Nazlan, they are quibbling with words. Judges are constrained by their own code of ethics from defending themselves or speaking out publicly; it falls to the Bar Council, therefore, to speak out whenever judges are defamed and slandered. Instead of merely issuing a tepid and pro forma statement, the Bar Council should immediately organise another march for justice to protest the slanderous allegations against the judiciary, as they did in September 2007.

Let’s be clear about what is really happening here. As the Chief Justice warned, the allegations about collusion with politicians are aimed at subverting the administration of justice and undermining public faith in it. It is a targeted campaign by desperate and unscrupulous men working in the shadows to smear our judges in order to distract attention from their own crimes. 

We have allowed so many of our national institutions to become compromised, to end up servile minions to corrupt and dishonourable politicians; we must not allow the same fate to befall our judiciary. If our judiciary is compromised and tarnished by these unscrupulous politicians and their henchmen with their scurrilous allegations, Malaysia’s future itself will be further jeopardised.  Instead of investigating the judge or casting aspersions against a venerable institution, the authorities should go after all those who make those vile and malicious allegations.

[Dennis Ignatius | Kuala Lumpur | Monday, 25th April 2022]