Monday, December 3, 2007

Best of the Best for Royal Commission?

The following suggestions made by well-respected prominent human rights lawyer and National Human Rights Society (Hakam) President Malik Imtiaz Sarwar has merits. He calls for truly highly respected persons of high integrity-and objectivity and even possibly of international stature, with all the right stuff-to sit in the upcoming royal commission of inquiry to look into the Lingam tape.

Here is the article in Malaysiakini-the online news portal that provides truthful news that no mainstream news media in Malaysia has the spine to report.

Hakam: Seek international help for royal commission
Dec 3, 07 7:03pm

The National Human Rights Society (Hakam) has urged the cabinet to obtain suitable candidates from the international legal fraternity for the royal commission of inquiry into the Lingam tape, should the need arise.

Australian High Court judge Michael Kirby was one of the figures named by Hakam president Malik Imtiaz Sarwar in a statement today.

According to Malik, the Malaysian judiciary and bar have enjoyed a constructive relationship with Kirby.

Hakam is also in favour of Perak regent Raja Nazrin Shah to chair the royal commission.

The human rights body also called on the cabinet to seek advice from the International Commission of Jurists, a respectable organisation that focuses on the implementation of international law and human rights principles.

This suggestion comes in light of the precedent set by the special tribunal that tried former lord president Salleh Abas in 1988 where judges from Singapore and Sri Lanka sat on the commission.

Malik, a lawyer, said three to five members would suffice for the royal commission and that it was not unrealistic that this number of suitable persons be found.

He added that a small number of commissioners can remain effective with the assistance of proper human resource arrangements.

Ideal requirements

These proposals are a response to former High Court judge Syed Ahmad Idid’s comment on Hakam’s earlier list of suitable commissioners.

Speaking last week at a forum entitled the 'Malaysian Judiciary Today', Syed Ahmad Idid asked rhetorically, “Who else is left?”

Hakam’s criteria excludes the following persons from sitting on the royal commission:

* Any chief justice since Hamid Omar, including Hamid himself

* Retired judges who served under (former chief justices) Eusoff Chin, Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah and Ahmad Fairuz

* Any judge currently serving

* Any person closely connected with the current or previous (Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s) government, including the former attorney-generals

* Any person who might be perceived to have grievances against the government or the judicial administration in the period from 1988, including Salleh Abbas and any of the judiciary members penalised in the 1988 attack on the judiciary

Malik defended Hakam’s stringent criteria as “the ideal” requirements for electing commissioners to investigate the issues surrounding revelations of the eight-minute video recording.

The clip showed senior lawyer VK Lingam in a phone conversation allegedly discussing the appoint of “friendly judges”. It is said that former chief justice Ahmad Fairuz was at the other end, but he has denied this.

“It is wholly unnecessary to jettison the ideal in favour of a perceived need for practicality. The matter at hand is one which allows for nothing less than the ideal,” said Malik.

He also said that royal commissioners must not only be capable of fulfilling this heavy obligation, they must also be objective and able to win public confidence in the inquiry.

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