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Encyclopedia > 1988 Malaysian constitutional crisis
The Sultan Abdul Samad Building housed the Supreme Court at the time of the 1988 Malaysian constitutional crisis.

The 1988 Malaysian constitutional crisis was a series of events that began with United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) general election in 1987 and ended with the suspension and the eventual removal of the Lord President of the Supreme Court, Tun Salleh Abas, from his seat. The Supreme Court in the years leading up to 1988 had been increasingly independent of the other branches of the government. Matters then came to a head when Mahathir bin Mohamad, who believed in the supremacy of the executive and legislative branches, became Prime Minister. Many saw his eventual sacking of Salleh Abas and two other Supreme Court judges as the end of judicial independence in Malaysia, and Mahathir's actions were condemned internationally. Image File history File links KualaLumpurAbdulSamadBldg. ... Image File history File links KualaLumpurAbdulSamadBldg. ... Sultan Abdul Samad Building The Sultan Abdul Samad Building is located near the Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) and the Royal Selangor Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. ... The Sultan Abdul Samad Building, as were surrounding colonial buildings near the Merdeka Square, had formerly housed all of the countrys judicial branches for decades. ... Sang Saka Bangsa The United Malays National Organisation, or UMNO, (Malay: Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Bersatu), is the right-Wing and the largest political party in Malaysia and a founding member of the Barisan Nasional coalition, which has ruled the country uninterruptedly since its independence. ... Lord President of the Federal Court of Malaysia was formerly the title of the head of the judiciary in Malaysia, from the formation of Malaysia in 1963 until 1994. ... The Malay language has a complex system of titles and honorifics which is still extensively used in Malaysia and Brunei. ... -1... The Sultan Abdul Samad Building, as were surrounding colonial buildings near the Merdeka Square, had formerly housed all of the countrys judicial branches for decades. ... Year 1988 (MCMLXXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Friday (link displays 1988 Gregorian calendar). ... Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad () was the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia. ... The Prime Minister of Malaysia (in Malay Perdana Menteri) is the indirectly elected head of government of Malaysia. ...


Since 1988, there have been regular calls for an official review of the government's actions throughout the crisis. In 2008, newly appointed de facto Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim said the government had to make an open apology to the sacked judges, calling the government's actions during the crisis "inappropriate". Not long after, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi called the crisis one which the nation had never recovered from, and announced ex gratia compensation for the sacked and suspended judges. Dato Seri Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi[1] (born November 26, 1939 in Kepala Batas, Penang) is the 5th Prime Minister of Malaysia. ... Ex gratia (sometimes ex-gratia) is Latin (lit. ...

Contents

Judicial intervention in a political dispute

This article is part of
the History of Malaysia series

Prehistory (60,000–2,000 BCE)
Early kingdoms
Gangga Negara (2nd–11th century CE)
Langkasuka (2nd–14th century)
Pan Pan (3rd–5th century)
Srivijaya (3rd–14th century)
The rise of Muslim states
Kedah Sultanate (1136–present)
Malacca Sultanate (1402–1511)
Sulu Sultanate (1450–1899)
Johor Sultanate (1528–current)
Jementah Civil War (1879)
European colonialism
Portuguese Malacca (1511 - 1641)
Dutch Malacca (1641 - 1824)
Kingdom of Sarawak (1841–1946)
British Malaya (1874–1946)
Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824
Burney Treaty (1826)
Straits Settlements (1826–1946)
Larut War (1861–1874)
Klang War (1867–1874)
Pangkor Treaty of 1874
Federated Malay States (1895–1946)
Unfederated Malay States (1800s–1946)
Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909
Battle of Penang (1914)
North Borneo (1882–1963)
Mat Salleh Rebellion (1896–1900)
World War II
Japanese occupation (1941–1945)
Battle of Malaya (1941–42)
Parit Sulong Massacre (1942)
Battle of Muar (1942)
Battle of Singapore (1942)
Syburi (1942–1945)
Battle of North Borneo (1945)
Sandakan Death Marches (1945)
Malaysia in transition
Malayan Union (1946–1948)
Federation of Malaya (1948–1963)
Malayan Emergency (1948–1960)
Bukit Kepong Incident (1950)
Independence Day (1957)
Federation of Malaysia (1963–present)
Operation Coldstore (1963)
Indonesia confrontation (1962–1966)
Brunei Revolt (1962–1966)
Singapore in Malaysia (1963–1965)
1964 Race Riots (1964)
Communist Insurgency War (1967-1989)
Contemporary Malaysia
Malaysia today
May 13 Incident (1969)
New Economic Policy (1971–1990)
Operation Lalang (1987)
1988 constitutional crisis (1987–88)
Asian financial crisis (1997–98)
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In 1987, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) — a leading party in the governing Barisan Nasional coalition — held elections for its numerous offices. For the first time in twelve years, the incumbent President, Mahathir, was challenged. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah was the candidate of "Team B" for the Presidency, taking on Mahathir, whose camp was labeled "Team A".[1] There was an intense campaign to win the support of the roughly 1,500 delegates from party branches all over the country, who would elect the party officers. Razaleigh's supporters expected him to win, and at the UMNO General Assembly shortly after the votecounting was completed, rumours spread that Razaleigh had won. However, the official results declared Mahathir the winner, with 761 votes to Razaleigh's 718. The Team A candidate for Deputy President, Ghafar Baba, defeated Musa Hitam of Team B as well, and 16 of the 25 seats on the UMNO Supreme Council also went to Team A.[2] The history of Malaysia is a relatively recent offshoot of the history of the wider Malay-Indonesian world. ... Image File history File links History_merdeka. ... Caves paintings of Tambun, dated 3000 BC, in Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia. ... The Common Era is the period beginning with a year near the birth of Jesus, coinciding with the period from AD 1 onwards. ... Gangga Negara was believed to be a lost Hindu kingdom somewhere in the state of Perak, Malaysia. ... BCE redirects here. ... Langkasuka (-langkha Sanskrit for resplendent land -sukkha of bliss) was apparently the oldest kingdom on the Malay peninsula. ... A call of pan-pan is a very urgent message concerning the safety of a ship, aircraft or other vehicle, or persons on board who require immediate assistance. ... Map of Southeast Asia at end of 12th century. ... This article or section needs copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone and/or spelling. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... For the province, see Sulu Location of Sulu in the Philippines Capital Jolo Language(s) Arabic (official), Tausug, Malay, Banguingui, Bajau languages Religion Islam Government Monarchy Sultan  - 1450-1480 Shariful Hashem Syed Abu Bakr  - 1884-1899 Jamal ul-Kiram I History  - Established 1450  - Annexed by USA 1899 The Sultanate... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Jementah Civil War happened in 1879 in Jementah, Sultanate of Johor when Tengku Alam, the heir of Sultan Ali of Muar refused to give the district of Muar under temporary administration of Sultan Abu Bakar of Johor. ... Portuguese Malacca Capital Malacca Town Language(s) Portuguese, Malay Political structure Colony King  - 1511-1521 Manuel I  - 1640-1641 John IV Captains-major  - 1512-1514 Ruí de Brito Patalim (first)  - 1638-1641 Manuel de Sousa Coutinho (last) Captains-general  - 1616-1635 António Pinto da Fonseca (first)  - 1637-1641 Lu... Dutch Malacca Capital Malacca Town Language(s) Dutch, Malay Political structure Colony Governor  - 1641 - 1642 Jan van Twist  - 1824 - 1825 Hendrik S. van Son British Residents  - 1795 Archibald Brown  - 1803 - 1818 William Farquhar Historical era Imperialism  - Established 14 January, 1641  - British occupation 1795-1818  - Anglo-Dutch Treaty 17 March, 1824... State motto: Bersatu, Berusaha, Berbakti State anthem: Ibu Pertiwiku Capital Kuching Ruling party Barisan Nasional  - Yang di-Pertua Negeri Abang Muhammad Salahuddin  - Ketua Menteri Abdul Taib Mahmud History    - Brunei Sultanate 19th century   - Brooke dynasty 1841   - Japanese occupation 1941-1945   - British control 1946   - Accession into Malaysia 1963  Area  - Total 124,450... British Malaya was a set of states that were colonized by the British from the 18th and the 19th until the 20th century. ... The Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824, also known as the Treaty of London (one of several), was a treaty signed between the United Kingdom and the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in London on March 17, 1824. ... The Burney Treaty was a treaty signed between Siam and the British in 1826. ... The Straits Settlements were a collection of territories of the British East India Company in Southeast Asia, which were given collective administration in 1826. ... Larut War was a series of four wars started in July 1861 and ended with the signing of the Pangkor Treaty of 1874. ... The Klang War or Selangor Civil War took place in the Malay state of Selangor and was fought between Raja Abdullah bin Raja Jaafar, the administrator of Klang and Raja Mahadi bin Raja Sulaiman from 1867 to 1874. ... The Pangkor Treaty of 1874 was a treaty signed between the British and the Sultan of Perak. ... The Federated Malay States (FMS) was a federation of four states on the Malay Peninsula - Pahang, Perak, Selangor, and Negeri Sembilan - established by the British government in 1895, and lasted until 1946, when they together with the Straits Settlements and the Unfederated Malay States formed the Malayan Union. ... The Unfederated Malay States were five Malay states, namely Johore Terengganu Kelantan Kedah Perlis Together the states were not a single entity but merely a category to describe those states which were not Federated Malay States or Straits Settlements. ... The Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909 or Bangkok Treaty of 1909 was a treaty between the United Kingdom and Thailand signed on March 10, 1909 in Bangkok. ... The Battle of Penang occured in 1914, during World War I. It was a naval action. ... Motto: Pergo et Perago (Latin: I undertake and I achieve”) British North Borneo Capital Jesselton Language(s) Malay, English Government Monarchy Monarch  - 1882 - 1901 Victoria  - 1952 - 1963 Elizabeth II Governor  - 1896 - 1901 Robert Scott Historical era New Imperialism  - North Borneo Company May, 1882  - British protectorate 1888  - Japanese invasion January 1... Mat Salleh Rebellion was a series of major disturbances in North Borneo, now Malaysian state of Sabah, from 1894 to 1900. ... Throughout much of the Second World War, British Malaya, North Borneo and Sarawak were under Japanese occupation. ... Combatants Malaya Command: Indian III Corps Australian 8th Div. ... On January 23, 1942, the Parit Sulong Massacre was committed against Allied soldiers by members of the Imperial Guards Division of the Imperial Japanese Army. ... Combatants Westforce: Australian 8th Division Indian 9th Division 45th Indian Brigade 53rd Infantry Brigade Twenty-Fifth Army: Imperial Guards 5th Division Commanders Arthur Percival Gordon Bennett Herbert Duncan â€  Charles Anderson Frederick Galleghan Takuma Nishimura Strength 45th Indian Brigade: 4000 Infantry 60 aircraft 8000 Infantry 400 aircraft Casualties 45th Indian Brigade... Combatants Malaya Command: Indian III Corps Australian 8th Div. ... During the Japanese Occupation of Malaya, control of the State of Kedah was given to Thailand by the Japanese. ... The Battle of North Borneo was fought from June 17 to August 15 of 1945 between Australia and Japan. ... October 24, 1945. ... The Malayan Union was formed on April 1, 1946 by the British. ... The Federation of Malaya, or in Malay Persekutuan Tanah Melayu, was formed in 1948 from the British settlements of Penang and Malacca and the nine Malay states and replaced the Malayan Union. ... Combatants United Kingdom Australia New Zealand British colonies Federation of Malaya Rhodesia Fiji various British East African colonies Malayan Communist Party Malayan Races Liberation Army Commanders Harold Briggs Henry Gurney † Gerald Templer Henry Wells Chin Peng Strength 250,000 Malayan Home Guard troops 40,000 regular Commonwealth personnel 37,000... Combatants Malayan Races Liberation Army or Malayan Communist Party Malayan Police Commanders Muhammad Madera Lek Tuan Sgt Jamil Mohd Shah (Bukit Kepong police chief) Penghulu Ali Mustapha (penghulu of the Bukit Kepong town) Strength 200 25 Casualties about 40 dead 23 dead including non-combatants (Assistant Police (AP)) Bukit Kepong... Hari Merdeka (Independence Day) is a national day of Malaysia commemorating the independence of the Federation of Malaya from British colonial rule. ... Motto: Bersekutu Bertambah Mutu Unity Is Strength1 Anthem: Negaraku Capital (and largest city) Kuala Lumpur3 Official languages Malay2 Demonym Malaysian Government Constitutional monarchy and Parliamentary democracy  -  Yang di-Pertuan Agong Mizan Zainal Abidin  -  Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi Independence  -  from the United Kingdom (Malaya only) August 31, 1957   -  Federation... In February 1963, the government of Singapore conducted a security operation, named Operation Coldstore (sometimes spelled Operation Cold Store), and arrested at least 107 left-wing politicians and trade unionists. ... The Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation was an intermittent war over the future of the island of Borneo, between British-backed Malaysia and Indonesia in 1962–1966. ... Combatants United Kingdom Australia New Zealand Malaya Brunei Parti Rakyat Brunei Indonesia Commanders General Sir Nigel Poett Yassin Affandi Strength  ?  ? Casualties  ?  ? The Brunei Revolt broke out on December 8, 1962 and was led by Yassin Affandi and his armed rebels. ... On 16 September 1963, Singapore joined the Federation of Malaya together with Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia. ... The start of the July riot on Prophet Muhammads birthday, that would later injure hundreds and kill 23 people. ... Combatants Malaysian Federal Government Malaysian Army Royal Malay Regiment Royal Ranger Regiment Royal Malaysian Air Force Royal Malaysian Police Malayan Communist Party Commanders Abdullah CD (Che Anjang Abdullah) - CPM leader Chin Peng - Secretary general Ah Sek (Ah Sze) Casualties Civilian casualties: The Communist Insurgency War or Second Malayan Emergency was... Motto: Bersekutu Bertambah Mutu Unity Is Strength1 Anthem: Negaraku Capital (and largest city) Kuala Lumpur3 Official languages Malay2 Demonym Malaysian Government Constitutional monarchy and Parliamentary democracy  -  Yang di-Pertuan Agong Mizan Zainal Abidin  -  Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi Independence  -  from the United Kingdom (Malaya only) August 31, 1957   -  Federation... The May 13 Incident saw numerous cases of arson in the Malaysian capital city of Kuala Lumpur. ... Under the Malaysian New Economic Policy, Bumiputras are given discounts on real estate. ... Operation Lalang (or in English, Weeding Operation; also referred to as Ops Lallang) was carried out on 27 October 1987 by the Malaysian police to crackdown on opposition leaders and social activists. ... The Asian financial crisis was a financial crisis that started in July 1997 in Thailand and affected currencies, stock markets, and other asset prices in several Asian countries, many considered East Asian Tigers. ... Sang Saka Bangsa The United Malays National Organisation, or UMNO, (Malay: Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Bersatu), is the right-Wing and the largest political party in Malaysia and a founding member of the Barisan Nasional coalition, which has ruled the country uninterruptedly since its independence. ... Barisan Nasional (National Front or BN) is a major political coalition in Malaysia. ... Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah (born 1937) is a major Malaysian political figure from the state of Kelantan. ... Tun Ghafar Baba (February 18, 1925–April 23, 2006) was a Malaysian politician from Melaka and a former Deputy Prime Minister. ... Tan Sri Musa bin Hitam aka Moses Black received his Bachelors degree from the University of Malaya and his Masters degree from the University of Sussex. ...


Razaleigh's supporters were upset by the election, which they insisted had to have been rigged. Their anger was exacerbated by Mahathir, who went on to purge all Team B members from the Cabinet.[3] As a result, 12 UMNO members filed a lawsuit in the High Court, seeking a court order to void the election results and pave the way for a new election. The plaintiffs alleged that 78 of the delegates had been selected by branches not registered with the Registrar of Societies, and as a result were not eligible to vote. They also claimed that certain documents related to the election had been "tampered with". Although Razaleigh was not among the twelve plaintiffs, he was widely believed to be funding and co-ordinating the suit.[4] Civil action redirects here. ...


Later, one of the twelve withdrew from the case, but the remaining eleven continued to press on. The High Court eventually gave the parties a two week deadline to reach an out of court settlement. An UMNO "Unity Panel" was formed to handle the negotiations and reach a compromise. However, it soon became clear that the differences were intractable — Team B would settle for no less than a new election, while Team A insisted that the suit be withdrawn and a "face-saving" solution be reached which would allow some Team B members to remain in the party. Eventually the eleven plaintiffs declared they would seek a final judgement from the court.[5]


This did not please Mahathir, who had clashed on several previous occasions with the judiciary. In one instance, a government order revoking the work permits of two foreign journalists critical of the government had been overruled by the Supreme Court. Mahathir began making heated attacks on the judiciary, telling Time, "The judiciary says, 'Although you passed a law with a certain thing in mind, we think that your mind is wrong, and we want to give our interpretation.' If we disagree, the Courts will say, 'We will interpret your disagreement.' If we [the government and Parliament] go along, we are going to lose our power of legislation." [6] Mahathir also lashed out at "black sheep [judges] ... who want to be ... fiercely independent," accusing them of playing to public opinion. Immediately after this latter statement, the government reassigned several High Court judges to different divisions, including Justice Harun Hashim who was then hearing the UMNO case. However, as the latter case was already in progress, Harun's transfer would not take effect until the case closed.[7] For other uses, see Journalist (disambiguation). ... TIME redirects here. ... The Malaysian Houses of Parliament in Kuala Lumpur. ...


Harun was thus forced to make the final call on the case of the "UMNO 11". Although most of the evidence they had presented was not contested, the UMNO defence argued that not all possible remedies within UMNO had been exhausted. The plaintiffs, however, insisted that the fact that at least 30 unregistered branches had sent delegates to the UMNO elections should have been enough to nullify their results. In the end, Harun dismissed the suit, citing Article 41 of the Societies Act 1966, which stated any society would automatically become "unlawful" if any of its branches were not registered with the Registrar of Societies. As a result, Harun declared he had no choice but to declare UMNO "an unlawful society", thereby rendering "[w]hat happened in 1987" a nullity. In his decision, Harun blamed Parliament for forcing his hand: "If the old law was in existence... [one could] apply the common law principle, but here it seems the Parliament, to ensure strict compliance with the law, has made this provision look harsh."[8] This article concerns the common-law legal system, as contrasted with the civil law legal system; for other meanings of the term, within the field of law, see common law (disambiguation). ...


As soon as the decision was made public, Mahathir assured UMNO members that as the decision was based on minor "technicalities", the party could easily be restored as a lawful society. He also reminded the public that this did not threaten his status as Prime Minister, as only a no-confidence vote could lawfully remove him from power.[9] Within a fortnight of Harun's decision, Mahathir announced the registration of UMNO Baru (New UMNO). UMNO Baru's leadership was almost entirely composed of Team A members, who proceeded to spend the next few months transferring the assets of the "old" UMNO to UMNO Baru.[10] The UMNO 11 pursued their case to the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, still seeking to hold new elections for the "old" UMNO and having its lawful status restored. However, their appeal was rejected.[11] Razaleigh then decided to form a new party focused on the "spirit of 1946" — the year UMNO had been founded.[12] UMNO Baru in turn decided that the "Baru" was superfluous, and officially dropped it from its name, in effect claiming to be the true successor to UMNO instead of Razaleigh's party, which would eventually call itself Semangat 46 (Spirit of 46).[13] ... Semangat 46 (Spirit of 46) is a now defunct Malaysian political party. ...


Constitutional amendments

The "UMNO 11" case was just one of a number which had irritated Mahathir and the government. The case of the two journalists mentioned earlier had begun when John Berthelsen and Raphael Pura authored a series of articles on financial transactions of dubious ethical and legal nature carried out by government officials. The Asian Wall Street Journal which published them was promptly banned from the country, and Mahathir in his capacity as Home Affairs Minister had Berthelsen's and Pura's work permits revoked. However, the Supreme Court overturned the cancellation of Berthelsen's work permit because he had not been given a chance to answer the charges of the government. As a result, the ban on the Asian Wall Street Journal was also lifted.[14] In a different case, the Supreme Court used its power of judicial review, and nullified amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code which gave the Attorney-General the power to initiate criminal proceedings in the High Court without first going to a Magistrate's Court. After Operation Lallang in 1987, where the government detained several political dissidents without trial under the Internal Security Act (ISA), the High Court granted Karpal Singh's application to be released from detention due to technicalities in the way he had been detained.[15] The Asian Wall Street Journal is a version of The Wall Street Journal that provides news and analysis of global business developments for an Asian audience. ... Judicial review is the power of a court to review the actions of public sector bodies in terms of their legality or constitutionality. ... Operation Lalang (or in English, Weeding Operation; also referred to as Ops Lallang) was carried out on 27 October 1987 by the Malaysian police to crack down on opposition leaders and social activists. ... The Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) is a preventive detention law in force in Malaysia. ... Karpal Singh Ram Singh or simply Karpal Singh is a Malaysian politican and a lawyer by profession. ...


This last case did it for Mahathir. The following week, he submitted several constitutional amendments to Parliament, divesting the courts of the "judicial power of the Federation" and giving them only such judicial powers as Parliament might grant them. In justifying the amendments, Mahathir stated: "...the courts have decided that in enforcing the law they are bound by their interpretations and not by the reasons for which Parliament formulated these laws ... lately the judiciary had seen fit to touch on matters which were previously regarded as solely within the executive's jurisdiction."[16]


The Lord President of the Supreme Court, Tun Salleh Abas, was pressured by his fellow judges to respond to the government's actions. Salleh decided to convene a meeting of all 20 judges from the Supreme and High Courts in the capital of Kuala Lumpur. At the meeting, they agreed not to publicly reply to Mahathir's criticisms. Instead, they wrote a confidential letter to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) and the Malay rulers, expressing their grievances. The proposed letter, which was unanimously approved, was written by Salleh Abas. The letter stated the judges' disappointment "with the various comments and accusations made by the Honourable Prime Minister against the Judiciary," but did not demand specific action be taken — instead, it ended with an expression of "hope that all those unfounded accusations will be stopped".[17]-1... Nickname: Motto: Maju dan makmur (English: Progress and Prosper) Location in Malaysia Coordinates: , Country State Establishment 1857 Granted city status 1974 Government  - Mayor (Datuk Bandar) Datuk Abdul Hakim Borhan From 14 December 2006 Area  - Total 243. ... Flag of the Supreme Head of Malaysia Yang di-Pertuan Agong is a Malay title usually translated as Supreme Ruler or Paramount Ruler, is the official title of the constitutional head of state of the federation of Malaysia. ...


Suspension and removal of Tun Salleh Abas and other judges

In 1988, Tun Salleh Abas was brought before a tribunal convened by the then Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohammad on the grounds of misconduct. The tribunal was chaired by Tun Hamid Omar. In response to the tribunal, Tun Salleh Abas filed a suit in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur to challenge the constitutionality of the tribunal. While proceeding with the suit, Tun Salleh Abas applied for an interim stay against the tribunal until July 4, 1988. The request was denied. is the 185th day of the year (186th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...


Later however, five judges of the Supreme Court convened and granted Tun Salleh Abas an interlocutory order against the tribunal. Upon receiving the order, Tun Salleh Abas' solicitors proceed to the Parliament to present the chairman of the tribunal the interlocutory order. The gate leading to the Parliament however was locked and Tun Salleh Abas' representative had to call in the police to be guaranteed a passage into the Parliament. Eventually, the order was presented to the tribunal chairman. The Malaysian Houses of Parliament in Kuala Lumpur. ...


Soon after, the five judges were suspended. The judges were Tan Sri Azmi Kamaruddin, Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdoolcader, Tan Sri Wan Hamzah Mohamed Salleh, Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawanteh and Datuk George Seah.[18] This effectively suspended the Supreme Court. With the Supreme Court suspended, the challenge toward the legality of the tribunal could not be heard. The tribunal later removed Tun Salleh Abas from his office. Tan Sri Wan Sulaiman and Datuk George Seah were also removed from office. The other three judges were later reinstated.


The irregular dismissal of Tun Salleh Abas led the Bar Council of Malaysia refusing to recognize the new Lord President. Around the same time, the Federal Constitution was amended to divest the courts of the "judicial power of the Federation", granting them instead such judicial powers as Parliament might grant them.


Legacy

Although many from the ranks of the opposition as well as the former government such as Tunku Abdul Rahman considered the sacking of Tun Salleh Abas abhorrent, Mahathir's supporters insisted that it had liberated the Malaysian judiciary from a colonial mindset. The sacking of several justices was justified by claims that these judges had been abusing public funds for their personal expenses — such as the purchase of luxury furniture from Italy. It was also claimed that the sackings had eliminated deadwood and improved efficiency in the courts, as evinced by a reduction in their backlog.[19] Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Hamid Shah (February 8, 1903–December 6, 1990) usually known as the Tunku (a princely title in Malaysia), and also called Bapa Kemerdekaan (Father of Independence) or Bapa Malaysia (Father of Malaysia), was Chief Minister of the Federation of Malaya...


Many believe that the judicial crisis ultimately subordinated the judiciary to the executive.[citation needed]


Call to revisit the case

Mahathir Mohammed stepped down from the premiership in 2003, having chosen Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to succeed him. In 2006, the relationship between the two became less than warm as Mahathir started to criticize the latter's policies. During this period, many begin calling for the judiciary or government to review the decision against the sacked judges. Among the loudest advocates of the review was Tun Salleh Abas himself. The administration dismissed such calls. Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nazri Aziz, who was then de facto Law Minister, said that he was not convinced of the need to review the case.[20] Dato Seri Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi[1] (born November 26, 1939 in Kepala Batas, Penang) is the 5th Prime Minister of Malaysia. ... Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz is a Malay Malaysian politician from the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), and is as of 2005 a Minister in the Prime Ministers Department. ...


After the 2008 general election which saw heavy losses for BN, Abdullah reshuffled his Cabinet. Within days of his appointment, new de facto Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim stated that the government had to openly apologise for its handling of the crisis, calling it one of his three main goals: "In the eyes of the world, the judicial crisis has weakened our judiciary system."[21] However, he rejected the idea of reviewing the decision: "I am not suggesting that we re-open the case. I am saying that it’s clear to everyone, to the world, that serious transgressions had been committed by the previous administration. And I believe that the prime minister is big enough and man enough to say that we had done wrong to these people and we are sorry."[22] The Bar Council welcomed the proposal. Newly-appointed Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Shahrir Abdul Samad also voiced support: "The Government has apologised for so many other things to the people, such as the untimely destruction of temples and other issues. So, why not an apology to a former Lord President?"[23] Malay titles|Yang Berhormat Dato]] Shahrir Abdul Samad (born 22 November 1949) is a member of Parliament in Malaysia, and the former chairman of the Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club (BNBBC). ...


Zaid's proposal was criticised by former Bar president Param Cumaraswamy, who insisted that Mahathir's administration, not Abdullah's, should assume responsibility: "Those who perpetrated the transgressions are still alive and they must be called to account for their conduct and seek forgiveness from the six valiant judges, their families and Malaysians generally for the sacrilege committed to the temple of independent justice." He also proposed that the government compensate the three sacked judges since "reinstatement of the three dismissed is no longer possible."[24] Karpal Singh, lawyer and opposition member of Parliament, agreed: "Calling for the present administration to apologise is not a step in (the) right direction. It is not the present administration that convened those tribunals." Instead, Karpal suggested that a Royal Commission be set up.[25] A few days later, The Malaysian Insider, a news website, reported that the Cabinet was critical of the proposal, citing the potential for legal liability if the government admitted wrongdoing. Zaid said that the proposal was still being considered, and that "we have to wait."[26] Karpal Singh Ram Singh or simply Karpal Singh is a Malaysian politican and a lawyer by profession. ...


In April 2008, at a dinner with 600 members of the Bar and leaders from the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition, Abdullah acknowledged the impact of the crisis:

To a large extent, the events of 1988 have fuelled much of the disagreement on how to move on. ... I can say with a clear conscience that I abided and will continue to abide by the principle of separation of powers, leaving the matter of justice to the judiciary. And yet the legacy of 1988 haunts us until today. ... For many, the events of 1988 were an upheaval of the nation's judicial system. Rightly or wrongly, many disputed both the legality and morality of the related proceedings. For me, personally, I feel it was a time of crisis from which the nation never fully recovered.[27]

He then announced that the government would make ex gratia goodwill payments to the sacked and suspended judges: "I do not presume to equate your contribution, pain and loss with mere currency but I hope you could accept this as a heartfelt and sincere gesture to mend what had been." However, he refused to explicitly apologise for the events of 1988 or otherwise review them, saying it would "prolong the sense of crisis". Abdullah also announced his intention to set up a judicial appointments commission as part of his plans to reform the judicial system. Two of the six judges involved in the 1988 crisis — Tun Salleh Abas and Azmi Kamaruddin — and the families of the other four were present.[28] Ex gratia (sometimes ex-gratia) is Latin (lit. ...


Zaid welcomed Abdullah's announcement in spite of the lack of a formal apology, saying: "(One) can say sorry in other ways." George Seah's son told the press that although all his father wanted was an apology, the family would not reject any goodwill payments. Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawanteh's wife said: "Although I thank the prime minister, I feel less than satisfied at his decision (not to make a straightforward apology). This is not the end of the story for me. (Without an apology) I don't know, people don't know, that my husband was not guilty. I want my husband's name to be cleared. I feel my husband was innocent. He was an honest judge...Even so, I am thankful that our prime minister cares about us enough (to do this much)." Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdoolcader's granddaughter regretted that acknowledgement had been so late in coming: "I wish he was here. He's the main person affected by all this. It's a different case from the others (Salleh and Wan Suleiman) because he was reinstated. It's been 12 years. It should have been solved earlier."[29] Tun Salleh Abas however welcomed Abdullah's statement, saying: "I feel great. It was something I didn't expect. I suffered so much humiliation ... so much so I ran away from the public and took solace in being a farmer."[30]


Notes and references

  1. ^ Means, Gordon P. (1991). Malaysian Politics: The Second Generation, p. 201. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-588988-6.
  2. ^ Means, p. 204.
  3. ^ Means, pp. 204–205.
  4. ^ Means, p. 206.
  5. ^ Means, pp. 215–216.
  6. ^ Means, p. 216.
  7. ^ Means, pp. 217–218.
  8. ^ Means, pp. 218–219.
  9. ^ Means, p. 223.
  10. ^ Means, pp. 224, 225, 226.
  11. ^ Means, p. 227.
  12. ^ Means, p. 228.
  13. ^ Means, p. 230.
  14. ^ Means, p. 140, 236.
  15. ^ Means, pp. 236–237.
  16. ^ Means, p. 237.
  17. ^ Means, p. 238.
  18. ^ "Salleh’s case is closed", The Star. Accessed April 15, 2007.
  19. ^ Maidin, Zainuddin (1994). The Other Side of Mahathir, pp. 99, 101. Utusan Publications & Distributors. ISBN 967-61-0486-8.
  20. ^ Lisa Goh. Nazri: I’m not convinced of need to review 1988 crisis The Star. September 12 2006.
  21. ^ McIntyre, Ian. "Zaid: Govt has to apologise to victims of 1988 judicial crisis", The Star, 2008-03-23. Retrieved on 2008-03-23. 
  22. ^ "Healing the judiciary - first serious move in 20 years welcomed by Bar Council", The Malaysian Insider, 2008-03-23. Retrieved on 2008-03-23. 
  23. ^ "Bar Council backs Salleh apology move", The Star, 2008-03-24. Retrieved on 2008-03-24. 
  24. ^ Soon, Li Tsin. "Param: Seek accountability, not apology", Malaysiakini, 2008-03-24. Retrieved on 2008-03-24. 
  25. ^ Mageswari, M.. "Karpal: Review '88 judicial crisis", The Star, 2008-03-24. Retrieved on 2008-03-24. 
  26. ^ "Zaid takes a beating in Cabinet over apology", The Malaysian Insider, 2008-03-26. Retrieved on 2008-03-26. 
  27. ^ Badawi, Abdullah Ahmad. "Full text of PM's speech", New Straits Times, 2008-04-18. Retrieved on 2008-04-18. 
  28. ^ Beh, Lih Yi. "PM unveils judicial reforms but no apology", Malaysiakini. Retrieved on 2008-04-17. 
  29. ^ Chong, Debra. "An amazing night when many miracles took place", The Malaysian Insider. Retrieved on 2008-04-17. 
  30. ^ Chong, Debra. "Love was in the air", The Malaysian Insider. Retrieved on 2008-04-17. 

The Star is the leading English-language newspaper in Malaysia. ... 2008 (MMVIII) is the current year, a leap year that started on Tuesday of the Anno Domini (or common era), in accordance to the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 82nd day of the year (83rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2008 (MMVIII) is the current year, a leap year that started on Tuesday of the Anno Domini (or common era), in accordance to the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 82nd day of the year (83rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2008 (MMVIII) is the current year, a leap year that started on Tuesday of the Anno Domini (or common era), in accordance to the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 82nd day of the year (83rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2008 (MMVIII) is the current year, a leap year that started on Tuesday of the Anno Domini (or common era), in accordance to the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 82nd day of the year (83rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2008 (MMVIII) is the current year, a leap year that started on Tuesday of the Anno Domini (or common era), in accordance to the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 83rd day of the year (84th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2008 (MMVIII) is the current year, a leap year that started on Tuesday of the Anno Domini (or common era), in accordance to the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 83rd day of the year (84th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2008 (MMVIII) is the current year, a leap year that started on Tuesday of the Anno Domini (or common era), in accordance to the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 83rd day of the year (84th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2008 (MMVIII) is the current year, a leap year that started on Tuesday of the Anno Domini (or common era), in accordance to the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 83rd day of the year (84th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2008 (MMVIII) is the current year, a leap year that started on Tuesday of the Anno Domini (or common era), in accordance to the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 83rd day of the year (84th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2008 (MMVIII) is the current year, a leap year that started on Tuesday of the Anno Domini (or common era), in accordance to the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 83rd day of the year (84th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2008 (MMVIII) is the current year, a leap year that started on Tuesday of the Anno Domini (or common era), in accordance to the Gregorian calendar. ... March 26 is the 85th day of the year (86th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2008 (MMVIII) is the current year, a leap year that started on Tuesday of the Anno Domini (or common era), in accordance to the Gregorian calendar. ... March 26 is the 85th day of the year (86th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2008 (MMVIII) is the current year, a leap year that started on Tuesday of the Anno Domini (or common era), in accordance to the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 108th day of the year (109th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2008 (MMVIII) is the current year, a leap year that started on Tuesday of the Anno Domini (or common era), in accordance to the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 108th day of the year (109th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2008 (MMVIII) is the current year, a leap year that started on Tuesday of the Anno Domini (or common era), in accordance to the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 107th day of the year (108th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2008 (MMVIII) is the current year, a leap year that started on Tuesday of the Anno Domini (or common era), in accordance to the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 107th day of the year (108th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2008 (MMVIII) is the current year, a leap year that started on Tuesday of the Anno Domini (or common era), in accordance to the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 107th day of the year (108th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

Other references

  • Datuk George Seah (2004). "The hidden story". Aliran. Retrieved Dec. 30, 2005.
  • Datuk George Seah (2004). "Something's brewing In KL". Aliran. Retrieved Dec. 30, 2005.
  • Datuk George Seah (2004). "Drama in the capital". Aliran.Retrieved Dec. 30, 2005.
  • Datuk George Seah (2004). "The suspension of the Supreme Court". Aliran. Retrieved Dec. 30, 2005.
  • Datuk George Seah (2004). "Colonels judging the generals?". Aliran. Retrieved Dec. 30, 2005.

See also

A constitutional crisis is a severe breakdown in the smooth operation of government. ...

 
 

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