Call on Tun Hamid to retire from the Judiciary to end the stalemate created by the 1988 Judicial Crisis to arbitrarily remove Tun Salleh Abbas as Lord President

by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Sunday, March 15, 1992:

Call on Tun Hamid to retire from the Judiciary to end the stalemate created by the 1988 Judicial Crisis to arbitrarily remove Tun Salleh Abbas as Lord President.

The four-hour Bar Council AGM yesterday rejected by an overwhelmingly decisive vote of 809 to 52 a motion to ‘acknowledge and recognise’ the position of Tun Hamid as Lord President. This in effect means the retention of the Bar Council AGM’s no-confidence motion on Tun Hamid as Lord President adopted in 1988.

DAP calls on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, to accept and respect the clear views of the overwhelming majority of the Malaysian Bar.

Dr. Mahathir should not attempt to take punitive or retaliatory action against the Bar Council or the lawyers, for this can only aggravate the very strained relationship between the Malaysian Bar and the Government, further undermine the Rule of Law and adversely affect international confidence in the investment climate in the country.

Dr. Mahathir should not allow Cabinet members or any youth or other wings of Barisan Nasional component parties to threaten the Malaysian Bar, as in wanting to amend the Legal Profession Act to strip the lawyers of their independence as in appointing the Lord President, the Attorney-General or
the Minister for Justice as the head of the Bar Council. The government and the country will be the final loser in any attempt to escalate a confrontation between the government and the bar.

The Prime Minister should also refrain from drawing wrong and unfounded conclusions from the vote
at the Bar Council AGM yesterday.

Questioning the Bar Council stand yesterday, Dr. Mahathir said although the Bar Council claimed that
it wanted an independent judiciary in the country, it acted as if every judicial appointment would have
to be decided by it.

Dr. Mahathir added that if the Bar Council’s permission was needed for the appointment of judges,
then all laws including the Federal Constitution would have to be amended.

He also accused the Bar Council of being ‘undemocratic’ in wanting every judicial appointment to get
its ‘prior permission and consent’.

All these allegations by Dr. Mahathir are totally misconceived and unfounded. Firstly, the Bar Council had never demanded that ‘every judicial appointment must get its prior permission and consent’.

The Bar Council had reaffirmed its ‘no confidence’ in Tun Hamid as Lord President because of the circumstances in which the former Lord President, Tun Salleh Abas,, was arbitrarily and even unconstitutionally expelled from office and the role played by Tun Hamid in the ouster of Tun Salleh Abas.

The passage of time by itself cannot rewrite the saddest chapter of judicial history in Malaysia for otherwise, all wrongs and injustices have hopes of being accepted as rights and justices if those who perpetrate them have greater stamina and lasting power.

There is in fact a very simple way to resolve the stalemate and deadlock created by the 1988 judicial crisis, and this is for Tun Hamid to retire from the Judiciary. This is a step Tun Hamid should seriously consider in the higher interests of the judicial system and the country, as well as the principles of the Independence of the Judiciary and the Rule of Law.