Sabah and Sarawak High Court, Justice Datuk Ian Chin claimed executive interference on the judiciary, and subjected to veiled threat from former Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir in a speech made some 10 years ago. He claimed he was sent to a 'boot camp' for indoctrination.
He alleged that it was due to his refusal to give "astronomical award for damage to reputation in libel cases". He made this revelation at the start of an election petition hearing he presided. (Notes of proceeding available here.)
While the revelation attracted expected responses from Bar Council President, S Ambiga, Karpal Singh, and others, Justice Chin's allegation was disputed by Former Court of Appeal judge, Datuk Shaikh Daud Mohd Ismail, former Attorney General and Suhakam Chairman, Dato Abu Talib Othman, and few other judges.
Matthias Chang made an immediate response in reaction to the badly intended "spinned headline" by New Straits Times and Berita Harian to incriminate Dr Mahathir in the public eye. He called a press conference yesterday.
“These are serious charges. Justice Chin used language unbecoming of a Judge,” said Matthias, who call for him to be sacked, and charged for sedition and contempt of court. He disputed Justice Chin's allegations on Dr Mahathir and challenge him for a public debate within 7 days or charge him for contempt in his own court.
Matthias called Justice Chin a coward for not raising it 10 years ago. As a judge who is supposed to seek for justice and truth, it was his responsibility to make a police report and complain to the Chief Justice when it happened then.
He called upon Chief Justice Tun Hamid to state his stand as someone present and in the know of the event.
Matthias dispute Justice Chin's credibility and provided few pages of a 50-page police report made against Justice Chin provided to him by lawyer Zainur Zakaria. He questioned why investigation was not done on the police report filed on June 14, 2005 by Benjamin Hwa Yong in Kota Kinabalu against some questionable judicial practices of Justice Chin.
During the press conference, Matthias made some startling revelation on the practices of the judiciary, citing some known lawyers and judges. In his view, the problem with the judiciary lies with the judiciary itself and not others.
Report On Justice Chin
The Malaysiakini.com report on the press conference is as follows:
Dr M's ex-aide: Judge bitter because he wasn't promotedConspiracy
Malaysiakini.com, Jun 13, 08 2:10pm
Sabah and Sarawak High Court judge Ian Chin made damning allegations of judges being threatened and sent to an 'indoctrination boot camp' because he was not promoted, claimed lawyer Matthias Chang.
Chang, a former political secretary to former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, said that Justice Chin was "angry" because he was not promoted as Chief Judge of Sarawak and Sabah.
"He cannot understand why Richard Malanjun was promoted to the post instead. He blames the former prime minister but he care not to examine his infantile behaviour," Chang said in a statement distributed at a press conference at his office in Kuala Lumpur today.
Before hearing the Sarikei election petition on Monday, Chin told both parties that Mahathir issued "thinly veiled threats" during the Judges Conference in 1997 to remove judges through a tribunal.
Chin claimed that a month later, together with selected judges and judicial officers, he was packed off to a 'boot camp' and was indoctrinated with the view that "the government's interest was more important than all else".
Chang dismissed Chin's claims that Mahathir had threatened the judges in the 1997 conference by citing two judges quoted by New Straits Times on Wednesday.
In the report, former Court of Appeal judge Shaik Daud Mohad Ismail had expressed shock at Chin's claims and not remembering Mahathir issuing any threats.
Similarly, an anonymous serving judge quoted by NST said that Chin may have "took the opportunity to speak from the Bench because he thought Mahathir was responsible for blocking his promotion".
Chief Justice should speak up
In response, Chang said that the statements from the two judges had showed that Chin was making "wild allegations" against Mahathir.
"At least two judges have contradicted the veracity of (Chin's) statement. There must be an investigation against him on whether the veracity of his statement against Mahathir is founded," said Chang.
He also slammed de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim who was quoted as saying that he had "no reasons to doubt" Chin's claims despite the reports quoting the two judges.
Chang also questioned the timing of Chin's revelation and why the latter complained of Mahathir's alleged threats with the proper authorities.
"How can he expect the ordinary man to report against corruption when he does not dare to stand up and report to the Chief Justice?" he added.
Chang then challenged Chin to a public debate on the latter's clams.
"And I challenge him to hold me in contempt of his court in making this challenge," he said.
Chang also took serving Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad to task for failing to "clear all doubts" about what actually happened in the 1997 conference.
"Those in the know (and attended the conference) should come out and clear the air," he added.
He added that the Abdul Hamid should also initiate investigations into Chin's allegations.
In the press conference, Matthias seek reason why he was not sub-poened by the Royal Commission on the VK Lingam tape when he had already requested so.
In his view, the Royal Commission is a sham and is a conspiracy specifically intended to ridicule Dr Mahathir in the public eye.
In the initial stage of the proceeding, Dr Mahathir's lawyer, Dr Sofia Jewa expressed to the Royal Commission his willingness to answer all question within and outside the term of reference. The Commission insist that questiosn will be within the term of reference.
Matthias claimed that the Royal Commission had been unfair to Dr Mahathir. When Dr Mahathir was asked or seek to comment on certain issue but couldn't remember, they failed to follow court practise to provide him documents to refresh his memory.
They had instead used to villified for his inability to recall the event in their report. As a result, Dr Mahathir had been subject to ridicule.
In their report, the Royal Commission basically concluded that the proceeding were inconclusive and did not make any judgement, instead to request for further police investigation. However, they were inconsistent and had prejudicial intention when they implicated Dr Mahathir in their report. NST and BH conveniently used it as frontpage headline.
Matthias believed that there is some insidious neo-con conspiracy against Dr Mahathir by attacking him on judicial issues in order to discredit his initiative for a War Crime Tribunal on George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard.
To date, he said, the current Australian Prime Minister is seeking a similar Tribunal on former Prime Minister Howard.
Matthias commented on the New Zealand trip of VK Lingam and Tun Eusoff Chin incident in the Royal Commission proceeding. Matthias called it a hypocrasy and cited examples of the judiciary have behaved inappropriately and unethically in the past and for a long time.
He revealed being invited for a Birthday party by lawyer Dato Tommy Lee at the old Bonton restaurant in which he met judges and lawyers casually socialising in a private room.
These judges and lawyers were lobbying him on judges promotion and there were lost of rubbishing comments made against certain judges. He also described judges behaving and engaging casual conversation with Lee in court.
On another occasion, Matthias was invited by the then British High Commissioner, Bruce Cleghorn for dinner. To his surprise, it was a 10-table affair with lawyers from the Bar Council, specifically Raja Adruse, Dato Thomas Lee, Robert Lazur, Bar Council President Dato' S Ambiga, and others he witheld disclosure.
The function held by a foreigner was intended to lobby for the promotion of certain judges!
Matthias further opined that the legal community and public should witheld holding such people as Dato Syed Aidid and Param Cumarasamy in high esteem.
Syed Aidid only made his revelation after his written 'poison letter' were found in his home. Matthias feels that he has lost credibility from his act of writing poison letters to speak on judicial reform.
Furthermore, Matthias considered his cowardice act inappropriate for a judge who should have done the proper action to make a police report and complain to the Chief Justice.
On Param, he repeated an earlier comment that he only expressed his opinion on the judicial situation of this country but failed to provide evidence to support it.
He conveniently hide behind his immunity as UN Repertoire position to make untrue comments that is damaging for the country, which does not involve his work with the UN.
Matthias took shots at de facto Law Minister, Dato Zaid Ibrahim describing him as unfit to be a law Minister and not the appropriate person to institute judicial reform.
Zaid was convicted for money politics and suspended membership by the UMNO Disciplinary Comittee, headed then by current Federal Judge, Datuk Zaki Tun Azmi. Unlike Tan Sri Isa Samad, who was also disciplined by the same committee, Zaid defied and refuse to attend the hearing.
Regarding Zaid's opinion on Justice Chin's allegation, Matthias cided him for believing Justice Chin's revelation without proper investigations.
He called for the termination of the Law Minister.
Mainstream news reported Zaid did not agree to the setting up of another Royal Commission for this citing effort are already made to reform the judiciary. An online report believed Zaid's refusal to call for a Royal Commission was due to political reason.
Matthias concluded that the problem with the judiciary lies with the judiciary itself. It should not be dealt in the manner they are doing now, which is to blame at others but themselves.