The Court of Appeal has just overturned an High Court judgment in favour of the Selangor Government over actions of the Electoral Commission. Basically the dispute was about attempts by the EC to alter boundaries in Selangor which would favour BN. No surprise there. The EC is a creature of the BN government, despite its claims to the contrary, and is composed of appointees put there by BN.
The High Court, when appealed to by Selangor, ruled, properly, that the EC could not do what it wanted to do, i.e. fiddle the boundaries. End of matter. Or it should have been. But no.
The EC went to the Court of Appeal. A submission that one of the three judges sitting for the case should withdraw was dismissed without explanation¨The days when any suspicion of bias, justified or not, would result in immediate withdrawal by the judge concerned, are clearly over. At least in the Court of Appeal.
Worse was to come. After hearing the parties the Court overturned the decision of the High Court and, effectively, allowed the EC to continue to fiddle as it wants. Worse still, the three Judges hearing the case did not give any reason at all for their decision. Not only was that a barrier to taking the case higher but it was also a travesty of justice. To allow an appeal the reasons MUST be given if the public in general,and the legal profession in particular, are to know where they stand in the eyes of the law. Failure to do that removes all trust in the Courts and allows suspicion that the judicial process can be manipulated by the Executive.
Which of course, in Malaysia, it can; and regularly is. Ask Anwar Ibrahim if you need further confirmation! After the coming general election the entire EC should be ejected from the office which they have brought into contempt and replaced by persons able and prepared to give effect to the law. As to the Court of Appeal they should perhaps be allowed to return to whichever Inn of Court that housed them for a second attempt at the Bar Final examination.
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