Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Malaysia Today : Thursday, 12 June 2008

I refer to the allegations by Ian Chin, High Court Judge, Sibu, Sarawak reported by New Straits Times (11th June 2008) with the headline ‘’Dr M threatened judges…’’ and ‘’Judges Boot Camp’’ The Star (11th June 2008).

2. Ian Chin is reported to be sitting on the bench last Monday to hear an election petition filed by Wong Hus She the defeated DAP candidate for Sarikei parliamentary seat and the Barisan Nasional candidate Ding Kuong Hing who won the said seat by 51 votes.

3. It is quoted that before the start of the proceedings whilst sitting on the bench, Ian Chin ‘’anticipated a motion for his recusal, Chin took the step to disclose what the parties and counsel may not be aware of but which they may later complain that I should have disclosed’’. Both sides did not object to Ian Chin to recuse as the presiding judge.

4. Instead of proceeding to hear the petition, Ian Chin used his position sitting as a High Court Judge on the bench, to make malicious, disparaging and outrageous allegations against the former prime minister that ‘’ Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad threatened to punish the judiciary in 1997 for decisions he disliked. He referred to two cases he had presided over in February 1997- a libel suit and an election petition – the decision with which the then Prime Minister was apparently displeased’’.

5. Ian Chin is also quoted to have said that Dr. Mahathir at the judges conference about a month later ‘’had to issue a thinly veiled threat to member judges by referring to the tribunal that was set up before’’.

6. Is this the functions and duties of a judge to make malicious, disparaging and outrageous remarks against the former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad or anybody else for that matter and hide behind the cloak of judicial immunity instead of commencing to hear the election petition proper fixed for the day.

7. I have been taught, trained and made to believe as a practising lawyer that judges have to exercise prudence, patience, decorum and not to be seen to make malicious, derogatory and disparaging remarks when sitting on the bench. This constitutes a blatant act of misconduct by Ian Chin. Sitting as a judge on the bench, Ian Chin is clearly seen not to be impartial and displayed his biasness and prejudice by making such remarks from the bench.

8. Since Ian Chin ‘’anticipated’’ a motion for his recuse it is apparent that he knew from the start that there was a great feeling on his part of biasness, prejudice and partiality within himself in hearing the election petition and therefore should have automatically recused himself from hearing the petition.

9. Instead, he chose to abrasively and boldly make the malicious, derogatory and disparaging allegations from the bench when there was no indication of the counsel for both the parties to make objections. It is very obvious that the remarks made, were made deliberately and with malice aforethought, laced with cowardice when he said of the former PM- ‘’now, though no longer the prime minister and so no longer able to carry out his threat to remove judges which should therefore, dispel any fear which any judge may have of him……’’.

10. Ian Chin has not only shown bias, prejudice and partiality as a judge sitting on the bench but has also thrown himself into the political arena or has a political agenda when he declared that ‘he had twice stood unsuccessfully for election as a BN candidate in the 1980s in one of which he lost to the DAP’’ and ‘’the petitioner in this case may also have similar view with regard to my defeat by a candidate standing on the ticket of the party to which he belongs’’.

11. Ian Chin’s malicious, disparaging remarks against Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad clearly stems from his frustration and disappointment in not being promoted. This is clearly spelt out when he said ‘’ and it may cross someone’s mind that I may have an axe to grind against the party concerned or any member thereof’’ and as a blatant excuse to use and distinguish two cases- M.G.G. Pillai (1995) and Raveychandran v Lai Su Chon anors (1997) as well as setting aside the ‘’victory of BN’s Mong Dagang in the 1996 state polls in the Bukit Begunan seat’’. Ian Chin is also quoted to have said that ‘’Dr Mahathir had expressed unhappiness over the decision. After he was done with issuing that threat, he then proceeded to express his view that people should pay heavily for libel. He managed to get a single response from a Court of Appeal judge who asked whether he would be happy with a sum of RM1 million as damages for libel.’’-this was supposed to have been said at a judge’s conference. Furthermore Ian Chin is reported to have said that ‘’ He approved of it and he later made known his satisfaction by promoting this judge (since deceased) to the Federal Court over many others who were senior to him when a vacancy arose.’’ Thus, due to his frustration for not being promoted, Ian Chin has completely exaggerated, debase and thrown aspersions of incredibility not only against himself but other fellow judges and the whole of the judiciary in particular in the eyes of the public.

12. A sitting judge is quoted to have said that ‘’ There were about 70 judges at the meeting but I think the majority of us, including Chin, were not influenced by what Dr Mahathir said. I feel Chin took the opportunity to speak from the Bench because he thought Dr. Mahathir was responsible for blocking his promotion.’’ It is apparent that Ian Chin is under delusion and facing a mirage in making such disparaging, derogatory and outrageous allegations against Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. Even Tun Dzaiddin has said that he ‘’ does not recall what was said at the 1997 judges conference and this was echoed by Tan Sri Lamin Yunus and in particular Datuk Shaik Daud Mohd Ismail who said that ‘’It is a real shock. I do remember the (then) prime minister conveying the message about damages in defamation suits but not of any threats of removing judges via a tribunal.’’ A serving judge was also reported to have said that ‘’but I think the majority of senior judges felt that Chin’s ruling on the case was legally flawed.’’

13. Also, the previous presidents and the new president, Ambiga Sreenevasan along with certain members of the Bar Council since the removal of Tun Salleh Abbas for misconduct in 1988 has never agreed with or seen eye to eye with the former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and therefore their senses are clouded and the statement made is provocative to create turbulence within the judiciary which ultimately will lead to more serious judicial crisis.

14. The Prime Minister, Abdullah Badawi cannot for all intents and purposes remain silent or close an eye but must take the necessary steps to initiate and set up a judicial tribunal to try Ian Chin for the act of misconduct and not encourage such serious incidences by judges sitting on the bench in the future.

Mohd Yacob Karim
Non-partisan lawyer

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