Bar Council: Umno’s loud stand against Federal Court decision an attack against the judiciary

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The Bar Council reiterated its stand that politicians should not be making any statements against Apex Court decisions, including one against former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak that was delivered earlier this week.

The council’s president Karen Cheah Yee Lynn said that Umno’s loud stand against the Federal Court decision recently is an attack against the judiciary.

She said politicians should not try to win the court of public opinion by issuing statements without understanding the application of the law, as such behaviour is tantamount to an attack on the independence of the judiciary and rule of law.

“It is pertinent to note that the exercise of judicial authority is a fundamental aspect of the judiciary under our constitutional structure.

“This allows judges to decide on a case-by-case basis, based on the merits of each case presented before them, and cogent reasons for decisions are given in the form of grounds of judgement.

“While responsible criticism of a decision or judgment is permissible, we reiterate that politicians shouldn’t be making scurrilous remarks against their authority, as it may pollute public opinions against the highest institution that dispenses justice in accordance with the law.

“Unjustifiable statements only serve to poison the well, as judges cannot publicly defend themselves,” she said in a statement, today.

She said it is clear that the purpose of such statements issued in reaction to the Federal Court upholding the conviction against Najib is aimed at perpetuating distrust and suspicions amongst the rakyat towards the country’s judiciary.

Karen said it is not the place for politicians to sow discord amongst the rakyat by releasing statements that could potentially tarnish the reputation of the judicial system in the eyes of the public.

She said both the Umno president and deputy-president conveniently failed to include in their statements, that the Federal Court’s decision to reject Najib’s application to adduce additional evidence, is based on the laws and precedents.

“The crucial element is that the evidence sought to be adduced must not have been available at the trial.

“In this case, it had been noted that such evidence had already been served on Najib during the earlier 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) trial on November 4, 2019, which is a month before the defence’s case in the SRC International trial.

“There was no miscarriage of justice as alleged by both Zahid (Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi) and Mohammad Hassan (Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan), because the proposed additional evidence was already available to Najib at the trial, and could, with some diligence have been previously discovered or obtained,” she said.

She said judges, once appointed to the office, have assumed a position to treat every person, whether he or she is an average member of the public or a former prime minister, in the same and equal manner.

“As judges cannot defend themselves, they may be subject to prosecution from those who disagree with their views.

“In any event, public criticism of judges by politicians is untenable as it subliminally erodes the trust of the rakyat towards the institution mandated to dispense justice and to uphold the rule of law.

“Judges are beholden to no one but the law, not to politicians or any form of external interference, and criticism by politicians towards judges for their purposes is unconscionable and must be avoided at all costs,” she said. – NST