PM pays tribute to Tun Salleh and Supreme Court judges sacked in 1988
It was a dinner for lawyers and friends, graced by former judges, and the guest of honour was the Prime Minister.
But as expected, it turned out to be much more.
The Malaysian Bar Council dinner saw the closure of a very painful chapter in the history of the country’s judiciary and hopefully the start of a new one to renew the public’s trust in the courts.
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced several measures to reform the judiciary but to many in attendance, what was more important was the tribute he paid to the six Supreme Court judges who were sacked in 1988, which he described as a legacy that still haunted the nation.
Turning to former Lord President Tun Salleh Abas, Tan Sri Tan Sri Azmi Kamaruddin, Datuk George Seah, the families of the late Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawan Teh and Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdoolcader, the Prime Minister said the Government wanted to recognise “their commitment towards upholding justice and to acknowledge the pain and loss they have endured.”
Stopping short of an apology as suggested by his de facto Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim a few weeks ago, Abdullah said:
“For me and for many other Malaysians, these towering judicial personalities represent a very different era for the nation’s judiciary. Many feel that the judiciary then was a venerable institution that could be trusted to deliver justice.
Some even hailed Malaysia’s judiciary as a model for other countries – independent and credible.
“This level of trust and respect for the judiciary, we must all admit, is simply not as strong as it was before.”
Abdullah also announced goodwill ex gratia payments to the six sacked judges and their surviving families as recognition of their contribution, but quickly added:
“I do not presume to equate your contributions, pain and loss with mere currency, but I hope that you can accept this as a heartfelt and sincere gesture to mend what has been.”
He also addressed the need to renew the public’s trust in the nation’s judiciary and “to ensure that justice is consistently delivered.”
Abdullah urged the judiciary, lawyers and the nation to move on, as it was not “wise or helpful to revisit past decisions as it would only serve to prolong the sense of crisis – something our nation can do without."
At the end of his speech entitled Delivering Justice, Renewing Trust, Abdullah was given a standing ovation.
Among those who got off his seat first was Salleh, who shook the Prime Minister’s hand warmly as he got down from the stage.
In the words of Abdullah, the time had come to write a proud and new chapter. --- The Star
Pix:(Courtesy of The Sun) - Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi shakes hand with former chief justice Tun Salleh Abbas during his attend Bar Council dinner. Also with them chief justice Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohamad (right))