Social activist: PM must implement reforms to convince M’sians no judicial immunity for ‘court cluster’ ministers

Peter John Jaban

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KUCHING, Dec 4: Prime Minister Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim has to implement judicial reforms to convince Malaysians that the inclusion of members of the ‘court cluster’ in his newly announced Cabinet does not promise judicial immunity to them.

Sarawak human rights activist Peter John Jaban, the founder of Saya Anak Sarawak (SAS), has made the call pointing out that the reformasi (institutional reforms) movement formed the basis of Anwar’s reputation for 25 years.

“With the inclusion of members of the ‘court cluster’ in his Cabinet, Anwar must now take immediate steps to ensure a free and independent judiciary as part of his first package of reforms to allow for proper accountability and the administration of justice going forward,” he said in a statement today.

Peter John further said many Malaysians are worried that Anwar’s inclusion of so many members of the old ‘court cluster’ heralds a return to the politics of patronage and cronyism, which they have rejected at two elections in a row.

“Although everyone is entitled to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, they should not have been given ministerial responsibilities until they have cleared their names. This is the standard parliamentary practice in other democracies.

“Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (Deputy Prime Minister) still faces serious corruption charges. He should concentrate on fighting to establish his innocence and secure his freedom. He should carefully consider whether he has the time and the energy to prepare for his case and still carry out his duties as Deputy Prime Minister,” he added.

He also commented that the imprisonment of former Prime Minister Dato Seri Najib Razak has shown that political power was no barrier to proper justice but stressed that Malaysia must now take the next step in showing that corruption has no place in society, let alone the parliament, by providing the conditions for true accountability.

He reminded that Anwar must not forget that the Pakatan Harapan-led (PH) unity government is a shaky coalition of unwilling members.

“He might think that he is placating his partners, but he should never forget that he is also putting them at the heart of his government, in a position to challenge his own. Only the continued support of the people will keep him in place. However, he will not last long if he continues to alienate his supporters. To maintain confidence in his promises of reformasi, his next move will be crucial,” he emphasised.

Apart from Anwar, he said Malaysians also count on the Judges to ensure that the law progress without fear of position or reprisals and see justice done. — DayakDaily