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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What the 901 verdict really proved

By Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad

When I wrote about how “The law has truly become an ass” back in February 2010 on the battle of the two mentris besar in the Perak power grab impasse, I meant it.

I was totally disgusted and appalled by the apex court finally returning a verdict of 5-0 in favour of Zambry Abdul Kadir over Nizar Jamaluddin, and whatever little regard I had for the judiciary entirely dissipated with that decision. It has never recovered since.

The High Court’s acquittal of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim yesterday has not changed my opinion of the judiciary either. And it’s not just about being a sceptic as the saying “a swallow doesn’t make a summer” suggests. It’s also not about the presiding judge not dismissing this frivolous case from the outset.

Lest you’re still wondering about my despondency and disdain for the judiciary, it’s all about the extreme humiliation we are subjected to as the country is being given global real-time coverage by CNN and Al-Jazeera, et al… all because of Malaysia’s obsession with someone’s anal virginity.

If Mohd Saiful Bukhari’s allegation of being sodomised eight or nine times over a period of two months by a 60-plus-old man with a bad back is to be believed, it doesn’t take a pundit to tell you that the predator must by now be whipped and jailed.

Given the firepower of the government machinery, both overt and covert, and better still for the investigating team, that it’s the second sodomy charge against Anwar, you would have thought they’d be able to prove this charge beyond the shadow of reasonable doubt! All the more if the government truly believes that this one man is Public Enemy No. 1!

But alas, by God’s grace, mercy and infinite knowledge, and to the amazement and shock of everyone present in court yesterday morning, a verdict of “acquittal and discharge” was handed down by the judge Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah in less than three minutes. I was in court and like everyone else was simply dumbfounded! Again, this former deputy PM has been exonerated.

I had been willing to accept any verdict and in fact scenario-planned all eventualities. Every scenario, best and worst case, has its upside and downside for both sides i.e. the federal government (Barisan Nasional) and the opposition (Pakatan Rakyat).

But to have the BN leaders, including the PM, unashamedly telling the rakyat that the judiciary is independent and credible because it acquitted Anwar is certainly the first darnedest thing said in 2012 in the political arena.

At the start of the new year, respected blogger Marina Mahathir called for a “End Stupid Statements” campaign. It looks like we really need one after reading and hearing some of the statements made after yesterday’s verdict.

Lest you fail to see the perverted logic of the BN leaders’ statement, let’s try a different scenario where the verdict came back as “guilty”. Is the PM and other leaders saying that if the court found Anwar guilty of sodomy, the judiciary is no longer independent and credible?

This is idiocy and lunacy of the severest degree! A judiciary that is independent and has integrity is not judged by a single verdict. It has to gain the trust and respect of the entire citizenry through doggedly delivering justice without fear or favour. Every time.

As if that statement of Anwar’s acquittal proving the judiciary is indeed independent wasn’t moronic enough to make this nation a laughing stock again in the eyes of the global legal community, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, alleged by many to be the master strategist of Sodomy1 and perhaps as claimed by some to be working in concert with the current administration in Sodomy 2, declares that the acquittal proves there is no conspiracy against Anwar.

Despite the 87 days of court hearing, 27 witnesses for the prosecution team, the judge could rule that the prosecution had not done enough to prove Anwar had committed sodomy.

It’s not that the prosecution had not done enough. There was simply not enough evidence. And for a second attempt, some might allude, failure to prosecute was indeed extremely disgraceful. To have a verdict that the DNA and oral evidence were uncorroborated didn’t speak well not of a conspiracy theory ibut of the conspirators in a Sodomy 2.0.. sigh again.

And finally, the cost of the all this legal wrangling. Who bears it? And how much exactly is the burden to tax-payers’ money? Saiful is now mulling an appeal. Sigh.

The buck stops with you, Mr PM! Let’s stop this gutter politics. Let’s all make a commitment to build this country of ours to a great and respectable nation again.

Yes, we are in a zero-sum game, but let it be on the plane of policy advocacy, performance, and political-intellectual acumen and not a destructive gutter politics of the worst order. Let us be a functional democracy and stop doing more of the same things.

This is the path to genuine reform and redemption.

If we are in denial, we do it at our peril and we will die by our own swords!

Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, Executive Director,

PAS Research Centre, MP for Kuala Selangor.

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