Friday, January 20, 2012

The Judiciary hasn't really changed: THE CASE OF ROSLI DAHLAN

by Din Merican

When Anwar Ibrahim was acquitted of Sodomy II on January 9, there was stunned reaction nationwide. Numerous interpretations came about, not least that this was the Politics of the Prosecution (or “Persecution” to be more apt).

Senior Lawyer Tommy Thomas wrote a most eloquent piece titled “Why was Anwar Ibrahim acquitted?” and suggested that Sodomy II was all about politics, and nothing but politics. That this was gutter politics of a new meaning where no political leaders across the globe had been the victim of such dirty state politics as Anwar.

Thus, the decision to acquit Anwar was about the Politics of Acquittal, that the trial judge did not actually make the decision himself, but it was in reality a political decision. That is the perception of most Malaysians (including lawyers) that in “political” cases the Courts are not independent of the Executive.

Tommy Thomas (left) suggested that one way to analyse judicial independence is by reviewing the trial judge’s overall conduct and he concluded that the judge’s acquittal was a U-turn of massive proportions which contradicted all his prior rulings against Anwar during the trial.

Malaysians shouldn’t be euphoric in heralding the dawn of a new era in judicial independence and that “Anwar’s acquittal will not be the harbinger of better things to come from the judiciary. One swallow does not make a summer!”

The Case of Rosli Dahlan: Gross Injustice and Victimisation of a Professional

That was indeed just one swallow if we are to judge the judiciary by the case of my dear young friend Lawyer Rosli Dahlan. Readers would remember that the MACC brutalised Rosli for defending Dato Ramli Yusuff, the former CCID Director, who was fixed by the Unholy Trinity- former IGP Musa Hassan, the MACC and AG Gani Patail.

Dato Ramli Yusuff and Rosli Dahlan had exposed Musa Hassan’s complicity in the Ah Long syndicate and also the Malaysian Airline Systems (MAS) Scandal involving its former chairman Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli. Both Ramli and Rosli were fixed so that these matters can be canned.

Recently, the MAS Scandal resurfaced when Minister in the PM’s Dept, Dato Seri Nazri Aziz, directed several GLCs including MAS to sack their lawyers and appoint the UMNO lawyer Datuk Hafarizam Harun (see the BN and UMNO logos proudly displayed on this firm’s website at: so that the cases against Tajudin can be closed.

MAS Issue unresolved--Why?

Speculation is rife that Tajudin Ramli is protected because he has damaging information about UMNO leaders in the plundering of the national airlines. MAS was at the brink of bankruptcy if not for the WAU (Widespread Asset Unbundling) scheme that allowed MAS to soar again. And the MAS/Air Asia deal is now viewed with grave suspicion as a repeat of all past misconducts which was why Rosli got into trouble with Dato’ Ramli in the first place.

In order to fix Rosli, the MACC served on him an invalid notice to declare his assets whereas he had never been a civil servant and was just a private sector lawyer. Although Rosli replied to that notice and declared his asset under protest, still the MACC brutally arrested him and charged him in a most humiliating and sensational way just one day before Hari Raya of 2007.

Rosli then filed an application in the Civil High Court called a Judicial Review to declare that what the MACC did was wrong. The A-G Chambers took a technical argument that the invalidity of the notice cannot be raised by Judicial Review but should be raised during the trial in the criminal court. On the other hand, during both Rosli’s and Ramli’s criminal trials, the A-G Chambers argued that the invalid notice cannot be challenged in the criminal case but should be challenged by Judicial Review in the civil courts. Clearly, AG Gani Patail is being dishonest by blowing hot and cold.

Eventually, Sessions Judges M. Gunalen and Abu Bakar Katar held that the notices against Dato Ramli and Rosli Dahlan were invalid and unlawful which means the MACC fixed them up! It is amazing that A-G Gani Patail has filed appeals against the acquittals of Dato’ Ramli and Rosli whereas there is total lethargy to prosecute Tajudin Ramli in the MAS scandal, Shahrizat Jalil in the NFC scandal, and Awang Adek for openly admitting that he received money and gratification in his personal account. And former Tourism Minister and incumbent MP Azalina Othman Said who recently admitted to accepting a bribe.

From my friends in the Palace of Justice, I heard that Rosli’s appeal for leave to file the Judicial Review came up in the Court of Appeal yesterday 19th January before Justices KN Segara, Clement Skinner and Anantham Kasinather. To save AG Gani Patail (right) from embarrassment for his inconsistent stand, these Court of Appeal Judges said that Rosli’s appeal was academic as he was already acquitted by the Sessions Court and forced the appeal to be withdrawn.

Hearing all these from my friends in the Palace of Justice made me very sad. Tommy Thomas was right that nothing has really changed, that it is too early to expect better things from the judiciary. The bully and underhand tactics used against Rosli is revolting to me.

I asked Rosli for tea with some friends to see if he was alright. Unlike previously, this time, Rosli did not try to avoid me. He seemed calm and collected when I tried to console him. There was a tinge of sadness in his eyes which he tried to hide by his charming dimpled smile.

Despite all my goading, he refused to talk about his case. When I asked what he planned to do next, he laughed and jestingly quoted Anwar’s war cry – “Lawan Tetap Lawan!”

That was enough for me to know that Rosli has the resolve to continue fighting on for the justice that was robbed off him.

I agree with Tommy Thomas that Anwar’s acquittal provides the best opportunity for the electorate to have a clear choice as to which coalition should be given the privilege of governing Malaysia for the next five years. A true two-party system must occur this time.

If we are to have true change and justice for all, then there must be a political tsunami that will change the landscape like the Malay proverb “Sekali air bah, sekali pantai berubah!”.

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