THE LAW MINISTER AND HIS FROLICS.
Malaysia has not got a law minister proper. She has a minister in the PM’s department who is in charge of the law in Malaysia. His name is Dato Zaid Ibrahim. He is head of the largest law firm in Malaysia, Zaid Ibrahim and Co. Azalina Othman the minister for Tourism once worked at Zaid’s firm.
He was appointed a minister by Pak Lah after the 12th general elections. Many were surprised at this appointment because he did not contest in the elections. if he had, he would have lost because I heard the Kota Bharu folks were after his scalp. The person chosen to take over his parliamentary seat, one Dato Fatmi Salleh who served as Dato Najib’s political secretary also lost.
Unfortunately, Zaid himself has a chequered past. He was found guilty by the UMNO disciplinary committee for money politics. Money politics is simply defined as securing votes from another by offering the voter any form of pecuniary benefits. Be it kain pelikat, trip to perform umrah or those trips to get away from the missus to places such as Medan, Batam , Phuket or anywhere. In the case of Zaid, his method was simply to pay out money. Perhaps it has become second nature to him, this business of paying out money. Such is his predilection with paying out money, he has extended the practice of paying the dismissed judges RM1.5 million each. The leopard indeed does not change its spots. He has not absolved himself from this practice.
Lately the de facto law minister has attracted unwelcome attention. He was most vociferous in pushing for an exorcism of collective guilt over the dismissal of the lord president and some other judges. He has been hyperactive in matters not directly rekated to the state of the law itself. Is he out on a frolic of his own?
When Dato Zaid was president of the Muslim lawyers society, he supported the government of the day in dismissing the judges. Therefore he is part of the collective guilt that he is now attempting to free himself from.
Why must we have a society for Muslim lawyers in the first place. I am not sure and have certainly not heard a society of Buddhist lawyers, Christian lawyers or Hindu lawyers. Lawyer are lawyers, Muslim or otherwise and they are not a group of people liked by people. The dismissal of the judges including Tun Salleh Abas himself was done through a tribunal and Tun Salleh has the services of formidable lawyers led by Raja Aziz Adruse. So we can argue until we are blue in the face and the cows come home about the justice on the day of the dismissal. I was watching the interview done with Tun Salleh Abas the other day and was struck by his pomposity and hand waving flippants about something. I heard him say that he does not wish to argue back and forth about the state of the judiciary. If he had not wanted, why was he undertaking a continuous crusade to crucify Tun Mahathir? The most honourable thing to do is to decline the RM1.5 million and give them to the poor in Trengganu and Pekan. Why are we wasting tax payers money to pay the judges ex-gratia payment. The public doesn’t care two hoots what happened at the state of the judiciary. Judges have led a protected and comfortable life anyway. If we want to split hairs over the payment, let us calculate the opportunity costs of paying the judges RM 1.5 million each. Dato Najib can use the RM 8 million or so buying all life needs for his voters in Pekan.