Friday, April 18, 2008

An amazing night when many miracles took place

An amazing night when many miracles took place

pix: Dr Wan Azizah greeting Abdullah Badawi at the Bar Council annual dinner Thursday night. — The Malaysian Insider picture by Choo Choy May
By Debra Chong
KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 — It was an amazing night at the Bar Council dinner at the JW Marriott Hotel in Jalan Bukit Bintang last night. Many miracles happened.
To start off, it was quite a sight to see members of the Barisan Nasional and the Pakatan Rakyat seated at the same tables without kicking up a fuss.
Namely, the VVIP table where Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi sat together with political arch-nemesis Wan Azizah Ismail and former Lord President Tun Salleh Abas.
One had grown too used to see one or the other lunging for the jugular in public (with the exclusion of Salleh), so much so that seeing them actually being amiable to each other and making small talk was disconcerting.
Then there was the Prime Minister's announcement that he was firmly pushing forward with setting up a Judicial Appointments Commission (JDA) despite the strong objections from his own BN fraternity. It was greeted with thunderous applause and hoots of approval from the 600-strong legal eagles.
And finally, his recognition and acknowledgement of the government's role that led to the tragic removal of Salleh, Datuk Seri George Seah and Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawanteh from office in 1988 and which plunged the judiciary into an age of darkness, so to speak.
Pak Lah's humble tone reached out to them and helped make a bitter pill a little easier to swallow. He said he wouldn't apologise, and didn't but the effort and courage it took him to get to where he was last night spoke volumes what he could not speak baldly in words.
As Zaid Ibrahim, the minister in the prime minister's office who had first mooted for a public apology from the government, put it: “(One) can say sorry in other ways.”
Better late than never?
The power of that love moved the minds and hearts of the people implicated directly or indirectly, those who suffered the brunt of injustice and those who were collateral damage — the families of the 3 judges rudely removed from office and the other 3 whose good names were besmirched, even though they were later reinstated. Full Story

Ex gratia payment not an apology, says DPM
CYBERJAYA, April 18 — The ex gratia payment announced by the government yesterday for six former judges involved in the 1988 judicial crisis is not a form of apology to them, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.
"The ex gratia payment is not tantamount to revisiting whatever that has been decided. It is not to be construed as any form of apology but this is our way of addressing some of their personal considerations and some of the personal experiences, hardship that they have gone through.
"That is all… so it is to be seen in that light. It should not be construed as anything beyond that
," he told reporters after witnessing the signing of a joint-venture agreement between automakers Chery Automobile Co Ltd and Alado Corporation Sdn Bhd here.
The six former judges are Tun Salleh Abas, Tan Sri Azmi Kamaruddin, Tan Sri Wan Hamzah Mohamed, Datuk George Seah, and the late Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdoolcader and Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawanteh,
Yesterday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced that the government, apart from making the ex gratia payment to the six former judges, would set up a Judicial Appointments Commission to nominate, appoint and promote judges in a transparent and representative manner.
On the members of the commission, Najib said it would be discussed at a later stage.
"I think it (setting up of the commission) is a significant step forward because the reform or changes announced by the prime minister yesterday means that the government is aware that we do need to ensure that our judiciary has the highest reputation and that the judiciary system in the country can perform in terms of deciding on cases in an expeditious manner and that judges of the highest integrity and capability are appointed at the various levels.
"The formation of this commission, it must be emphasised, is only in an advisory capacity. The final authority still lies with the prime minister to make the formal recommendation to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Conference of Rulers.
"It is a very significant step forward because it means that the prime minister will have the benefit of a group of very learned, eminent people to give their opinions on the suitability of appointing personalities into the various positions in the judiciary," said Najib. Full Story

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