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05/06/2008

RUMBLE FROM REMBAU OR THE QUALITY OF MERCY

by Thun Sri Then Datok Mat Salleh Denning, ex-Master of the Rocks, Rolls & Jams, donplaypuks® intrepid correspondent for legal affairs

The verdict of the High Court in dismissing without trial our own Bard's case
against the election outcome in Rembau and the elevation of one, the Hon. MP Khairuddin Jamaluddin (KJ) to Parliament, must, by any standards, rank among the most extraordinary of decisions to have emanated from our Halls of Justice.

As our MSM's report:

QUOTE ‘ There were too many allegations made. To me, all the petitioner was doing was to cast his net wide enough, hoping to strike something. It is not enough for you to say that there was an irregularity. The petitioner, in this instance, failed to prove that the alleged irregularity could have changed the election results. These twin requirements are a must. To me, the petitioner failed to provide evidence to substantiate any of the allegations he made.’ UNQUOTE

Bad enough that one should hope to ‘strike’ as opposed to catch, something by casting a net! Presumably fishing these days is done with huge dumb-bells attached to nets, so as to raise the bar in the time-honoured sport of angling, to sand-bag and sap these snarling, sneaky, evasive denizens of the deep. Shame on these unsporting Pisceans that they will not leap willingly into our nets without forcing us to resort to extreme measures!

Chegu Bard is deemed to have failed to comply with Rule 4(4) of the Election Petition Rules 1954, on the grounds that his allegations had not proved that bribery, intimidation, non-compliance with the relevant laws etc., etc., had occurred. Or so the learned judge opined in his dismissive revelation.

Huh?

Chegu Bard’s petition to the High Court was based on 4 issues, that:-

1. there was a serious discrepancy of 745 ballot papers.
2. there were various irregularities in the issuance and handling of ballot papers after the counting exercise.
3. he was not given the Return Form on the number of postal votes
4. that Election Commission had failed to ensure the Hon. KJ and his agents adhered to the election laws.

Granted that item (4) may have been strikingly cast on a wing and a prayer, but 1,2 & 3 seem pretty serious enough? So, how did His Honour decide there had been no irregularities without a hearing in open court?

Especially in the wake of ‘No, they said it’ and ‘No, it was only an informal advice, he did it’ public row and finger-pointing between the tenure-extended Election Commission Chief and the Cabinet over the 11th hour cancellation of usage of indelible India Ink for the 2008 General Elections?

In recent years, there have been several cases here and in an unknown Island (no, not Pedra Branca) immediately across the Causeway where prosecutors have filed scores, if not hundreds of charges, and simultaneous multiple suits and Mareva Injunctions, flinging their strike-force leaden nets with gay abandon, with the sure intention of intimidating and/or overwhelming a single defendant, or at worse, securing a plea-bargained sentence.

In particular, the postal votes issue in Rembau has been the subject of much public attention and disquiet. With a standing army perhaps of about 200,000 nationwide, is it likely that 5,000 or 2 ½% of that total should have their homes in the sleepy backwaters of Rembau, but that they were on Defcon Alert 10 at our nation’s borders against possible invasion by hordes of frothing Mongolians (led possibly by Genghiz Altantuya Khan?), Barbarians or Huns pretending to be nuclear ICBM (missiles), that they should cast their votes by post?

We have been brought up to believe in the Doctrine of Separation of Powers and that this 3rd arm of Democracy, the Judiciary, provides the safety valve against the excesses of the Executive and The Legislature, especially for the protection of the ordinary citizenry. This is symbolised by The Lady of Justice with the sword of fearless decisiveness in one hand and the scales of justice in the other for balance. There is also that all-important blindfold, meaning Justice for All, without prejudice or bias!!

Our Judges are meant to be Guardians and Sentinels, to protect the weak from being struck and being trampled underfoot by the excesses of the strong and powerful. But, if their Honours will not let us get even a toe-hold in the doorways of the Halls of Justice, where do we turn to?

Note also that other peculiar court decision which allowed to stand the construction of illegal barricades on State-owned land in Cheras by a toll-highway concessionaire, forcing residents to use toll-paying roads!

A grumbling, sour, sullen embattled former Prime Minister will not take his grievances to Court. Instead he lobbies for 3, not 1, Royal Commissions. What next? Royal Commissions to resolve each and every domestic dispute between husbands and wives or those between kachang putih (peanut) sellers and City Hall? Our Courts, it would seem, are no longer good enough for refereeing even the most mundane of legal disputes.

This public disquiet is not merely over the state of our Judiciary. There is that same unease over the credentials, behaviour and intentions of the top tier of our Cabinet, Police, Office of the Attorney General, Anti-Corruption Agency, Civil Service, Statutory Bodies & Government Agencies, Scholarship Boards, Schools, Colleges & Universities, Election Commission, to name but a few.

THE REAL BARD, Shakespeare, once wrote 'The quality of mercy is not strained, it drops as the gentle rain from heaven. It blesses twice; the one who who receives AND the one who gives, as well.'

Whither, A Few Good Men?

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