Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today denied allegations that he had subverted the judicial system, pointing out that the courts had often ruled against him, his party and his administration.
In a blog posting today, Mahathir (left) said that a “classic case” which debunks the argument was how Umno was declared illegal in 1988 by the courts.
“When the central committee of the DAP was found to have basically cheated, it was simply asked to hold another election.
“But for Umno, when four out of more than 6,000 branches did not follow procedures, the whole party was declared illegal.
“The judge who made this judgement was then promoted. I did not object,” Mahathir wrote.
Mahathir then pointed out that the courts had also allowed his former deputy, Anwar Ibrahim, to postpone a defamation suit against the former several times.
‘I was denied justice too’
He argued that if the courts were indeed under his thumb, Anwar would not be allowed to delay the trial and delay the opportunity for Mahathir to have his day in court.
The defamation suit was filed in 2006 over Mahathir’s remarks during a press conference where the latter cited portions of the 2004 Federal Court judgment that acquited Anwar of sodomy charges.
Anwar (right) eventually lost the suit and the subsequent appeals, but Mahathir argued that the lengthy duration of the trial due to postponements had denied him justice for four years.
“During those four years I was deprived of the right to say anything against Anwar as the case was considered to be sub judice. I basically lost my right of free speech and Anwar enjoyed a long period of freedom from my criticisms.
“If the courts of Malaysia are shackled forever by me, surely the decision would have been reached at the first sitting… In my case, the court took four years to find me innocent. Justice was denied me,” he said.
ISA detainees freed
Another example cited by Mahathir was how the courts freed Internal Security Act 1969 detainees based on a writ of habeas corpus.
“Before I was prime minister, no one ever challenged the right of the minister concerned to detain anyone under the ISA,” he said.
The final example cited by Mahathir was how the High Court had ruled in favour of The Herald to use the term “Allah”. He argued that if the courts were “in thrall” to the prime minister, the High Court would not have made such a ruling.
Mahathir’s lengthy blog post today was in response to an article titled “Standing up for the right things, not the stable ones” on The Malaysian Insider on Oct 21.
The article appeared two days after the news portal uploaded a erroneous Bahasa Malaysia translation on Oct 18 of an English article.
The translation error had implied that Mahathir had admitted to bribing Umno delegates with RM200.
An apology was issued by The Malaysian Insider on Oct 26. – Malaysiakini