“When you're left wounded on Afganistan's plains and
the women come out to cut up what remains, Just roll to your rifle
and blow out your brains,
And go to your God like a soldier”
General Douglas MacArthur"
“We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”
“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.” “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.
“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and be the deepest wounds and scars of war.”
“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't .” “The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.
“Nobody ever defended, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.
The Soldier stood and faced God
Which must always come to pass
He hoped his shoes were shining
Just as bright as his brass
"Step forward you Soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church have you been true?"
"No, Lord, I guess I ain't
Because those of us who carry guns
Can't always be a saint."
I've had to work on Sundays
And at times my talk was tough,
And sometimes I've been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.
But, I never took a penny
That wasn't mine to keep.
Though I worked a lot of overtime
When the bills got just too steep,
The Soldier squared his shoulders and said
And I never passed a cry for help
Though at times I shook with fear,
And sometimes, God forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.
I know I don't deserve a place
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around
Except to calm their fears.
If you've a place for me here,
Lord, It needn't be so grand,
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don't, I'll understand."
There was silence all around the throne
Where the saints had often trod
As the Soldier waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.
"Step forward now, you Soldier,
You've borne your burden well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell."
Tommy Thomas: You cannot hold the Federal Court to ransom By James Chai & P Gunasegaram
Wednesday, September 07, 2022
Malaysiakini : That is why I said if you had mentioned (in part 2
of the interview) this possibility to Commonwealth lawyers or judges
two weeks ago before it (the Federal Court hearing) occurred, they would
say, “No, nobody behaves like that.” Hence, it is without precedent.
In your book,
you say the longer the case drags, more people would feel frustrated
about the process. Many have said, for this case, that if Najib was
guilty, why isn’t he in jail yet? And part of the reason is because at
the High Court level, Justice (Mohd) Nazlan (Mohd Ghazali) allowed the
stay of execution on the 12-year jail term and RM210 million in fine,
which allowed him to roam (free) even though he was convicted. Do you
think the stay was validly given for such a high-profile, serious
white-collar crime? If it wasn’t allowed, would that have changed public
opinion to feel that justice has been served?
this ‘post-conviction bail’, and I think Justice Nazlan, whom I appeared
before many times, and with the greatest of respect, wrote a splendid
judgment and is a wonderful judge - one of the best judges, and the
attacks on him were unfair - but in my opinion, he made one error. Which
was, after conviction and sentencing - people forget it was actually 72
years on all seven counts where he was found guilty, and RM210 million
fine - he gave bail. I think that was a mistake. I said that then, and I
think with the benefit of hindsight, Justice Nazlan himself may admit
to it now. As a result of giving him bail, the attack on the judge
personally in the last six months has been totally unacceptable.
the equality provision. If the equality provision was raised in the
post-conviction bail scenario, the courts could have ruled that such a
serious offence does not warrant bail. If bail had been denied, and he
had gone in, he would have stayed in until the Court of Appeal and
Federal Court appeals. The damage to the Malaysian body politic in the
last two years could have been avoided.
I lived through the Harun
Idris prosecution. Harun Idris’s case was in the late 70s, and he was
one of Malaysia’s most powerful warlords - the prime ministers of the
day were afraid of him. Besides Harun Idris, there was Mokhtar Hashim,
and then Anwar Ibrahim - none of them shook the Malaysian body politic
when they were charged or convicted. Of course, they made a fuss about
it, they said it was a political trial but their lawyers all behaved
professionally. Most significantly, our political environment was never
destabilised, as occurred in the recent past.
help but feel that our system seems to still have differentiation in how
we treated Najib even from the beginning. You wrote that, under
ordinary circumstances, we would see Najib brought to court in orange
jumpsuits in handcuffs, but MACC decided not to. Then later, they
allowed bail in instalments, which was unusual, and recently, Anwar
(Ibrahim) said that he was pretty sure the prison would treat Najib better
compared to an ordinary convict. It seems like this is something quite
entrenched, that the notion of equality before the law is something we
are fearful to enforce.
I agree with you entirely. At
least the judges, (apart from the exception of Justice Nazlan on the
issue of bail), I think they were all conscious about it. In their
judgments, they talked about Article 8 and equality, that is the
judiciary at the three levels.
But the rest of the public service,
the MACC, the police, the prisons, they are still very feudal in their
mind. So much has been written about feudalism in Malaysia, in politics.
This is not an original comment I am making. So, this is feudalism in
action. They find it difficult. They cannot think of equality. They have
placed their leaders on a pedestal, and that is the population’s
What can we do? The politicians benefit. But if the people don’t put
them on a pedestal, they would not be on a pedestal. So it is cultural -
it is part of Malaysian society.
At the heart of this
case, this is a simple case of a public official misappropriating a
certain sum of money into his bank account and spending it. Why do you
think our system has allowed this to happen?
It is a
Malaysian structural problem. It is a result of concentration of power
in the Prime Minister’s Office. Well from Merdeka, the Tunku (Abdul
Rahman) was a powerful prime minister, it continued under Tun (Abdul)
Razak (Hussein, Najib’s father and the second prime minister). Dr M
(Mahathir Mohamad) was certainly an authoritarian prime minister.
when Najib became the sixth prime minister, there was so much power in
the office of the prime minister, and then he [also] became the minister
of finance - more power. And by that time, the state was very much
involved in the economics and business activities of the country. The
GLCs (government-linked companies), Khazanah (Nasional Bhd, the
sovereign wealth fund), and Petronas (the national oil company): the
state had its tentacles all over - the state means the prime minister.
The prime minister and/or the finance minister appoints and removes the
GLCs bosses. So everybody was scared of the prime minister.
KWAP (civil services pension fund, Kumpulan Wang Persaraan), for
example, there is no doubt that the KWAP chairman, board of directors,
who were all appointed by Najib, would not dare to say “no” to him.
Because if they say no, they would be removed. And they did not.
Such overriding power would be abused, which is why you must have checks and balances, and power being defused and shared.
mentioned the Harun Idris case. I remember the judge in that case was
Eusoffe Abdoolcader, who you regard as one of the best judges we’ve ever
had. In the SRC case, we have good judges, like Justice Nazlan and
(chief justice) Tengku Maimun (Tuan Mat) too. How much do you think the
outcome of the conviction of the former prime minister happened due to
the forces of personality of judges we had, rather than the judicial
system being independent, and thus the system can be relied on
regardless of which judge, and we would’ve arrived at the same outcome?
Harun Idris was charged, it was during the glory days of our judiciary.
We had Tun Suffian (Hashim) as Lord President - probably the best we
ever had - and then Raja Azlan Shah as Chief Justice of Malaya, and
Justice Eusoffe doing the trial. They are three of our best judges in
the 20th century, pre- and post-Merdeka. That is a relevant factor.
we come to Justice Nazlan here (at the SRC trial) and the Court of
Appeal and Federal Court – they are all strong judges, certainly the
chief justice and the others at the Federal Court. The ladies (female
judges), in particular, are very good. They are top class. Indeed, they
are world-class jurists, very brave and principled. So I think that was
certainly a factor.
Whether others would have risen to the
occasion is a matter of speculation. I don’t know, but certainly a focus
on the personalities on both occasions is warranted. In mature legal
systems, like the UK that has the common law system for a thousand
years, the standard and expectation on judges are high; many competent
judges would be expected to reach the right conclusion (in a case like
this) because the system is like a big oak tree - though faults and
errors certainly do exist. But developing countries don’t have that yet.
Our systems are not 100 or 200 years old, so it takes a long time.
Hence personalities matter.
To have judicial independence, you need two elements, one is the legal safeguards put in place, and second, the
DNA of the judges there. I was wondering for the first one, do you
think we have sufficient legal safeguards against political
interference? The reason I asked is because of the news of Umno holding
special meetings that criticised (Prime Minister) Ismail Sabri (Yaakob)
for not interfering in cases like SRC, on the assumption that they can.
Umno presidents were always prime ministers and certainly during
Anwar’s trials there was a perception that judges like Eusoff Chin, who
were direct beneficiaries of the 1988 judicial crisis, thought they were
indebted [to the politicians]. People forget that one of the
consequences of the 1988 judicial crisis was the politicisation of the
judiciary, in the sense that the judges realised, if they don’t “play
ball”, there could be a repeat of Salleh Abas [who was sacked], so that
was very much what the politicians wanted to achieve.
move forward 30, 40 years later, Umno, which is so used to getting its
way… Umno was showing its true colours last week. That was the Freudian
slip because they thought that is still how the system works today. But
it is not like this now. Certainly, nobody from Umno should be
interfering. And kudos to the prime minister for not listening to them,
and everybody else in the cabinet for not listening to silly demands
like this. It is unconstitutional and constitutes contempt of court. It
was brazen conduct by Umno and wholly unacceptable.
will be many more Umno politicians on trial now like Ahmad Zahid Hamidi,
Abdul Azeez (Abdul Rahim), Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, and even Rosmah
(Mansor) is still on trial. What is your confidence level that justice
would be served in these cases, or do you think there is a potential
repeat of what we’ve seen before? Will justice be served under Umno?
So far as pending cases I started are concerned.
There has been nothing new once PN and Umno took over?
to my knowledge. They are strong cases, so I don’t see how [we would
fail], using legal grounds. With strong witnesses and cogent documents
and the facts, and the law is in our favour, we should succeed. Applying
the legal test, we should succeed. I don’t see why the courts would not
find in our favour as we got the better case. We are the better team in
the adversarial system. We should win, so I am confident in those
cases. Other cases, I don’t know.