If you can read this far AND understand it, I know you are not drunk. If you cannot understand it, then you know that I am drunk. So which is which??
Anyway, my daily routine is to visit The Star Online, NST Online, Sun2Surf and Bernama to see their take on the News Of The Day, whatever it may be. Nothing extraordinary happened today but I was taken aback with this comical story that appeared in NST Online. It's not meant to be comical but if I say it is comical and you think it is not, why, perhaps that small glass of concentrated brandy must've made me so.
Still understand what I'm saying? Yes? No? Good!
Anyway again, this caught my eye. An all important interview with the pompous one who now spouts pearls of wisdom. But I'm not laughing. I cannot laugh in my inebriated state. I may be drunk but I'm still sober enough not to laugh when laughter is not needed.
Anyway again again, the pompous clown gave an exclusive interview to someone in th New Straits Times. It is so funny that I found it equally tragic that he can scrape the bottom of all barrels to come up with his nonsense. I'll be producing the interview below and I hope after reading this tragicomic piece, you can say it must be vintage Nazri.
The video clip, the walk, the panel
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, who is the de-facto law minister, talks to ANIZA DAMIS about the controversial video clip, the judiciary, the Bar Council and bloggers
Q: Is there a crisis in the judiciary? Why is there a perception of there being one?
A: There isn’t a crisis. It’s a false allegation. The perception has been created by some people. When I go back to my constituency, nobody talks about it. When people do not go to the courts to settle their disputes, that’s when there’s a crisis. But I don’t see that. The few people who are unhappy, make a lot of noise. It is reported, people read, and think there is a crisis. Crisis means it involves the whole country but nobody talks about it. I even asked my fellow members of parliament (MP) but nobody talks about it. So, what crisis are we talking about? The crisis is in the minds of those who created it.
Q: Some 1,000-2,000 lawyers were involved in the Bar Council walk. Are you saying that that many lawyers have been misled?
A: Only 1,000 went to the ground. There are 13,000 registered members of the Bar.
Q: You don’t think 1,000 is enough?
A: 1,000 of 13,000 — is that a majority? What’s the big deal? In a democracy, the minority cannot control the majority. The minority does not speak for the majority.
Q: Aren’t the views of the minority also important?
A: But (they are) not (the) majority. If there are any decisions to be made, it has got to be the majority.
Q: So, if you wanted to be convinced (that there is a crisis), you would need 7,000 lawyers to walk?
A: Even then, it’s still not important to us, because the lawyers are not the only people who use the courts. The ordinary people use the court in their disputes. It must be a majority of the population who feel that there is a crisis. Otherwise, there is nothing.
Q: Do you really want that many people marching in the streets?
A: No. You don’t have to have millions of people marching in the streets. Let the people decide, whether there is a crisis or not, through the legal means of sharing your dissent or anger — through the ballot box. Then you can say, “Let’s have elections once every three years then.” We have to work within the system that we have.
Q: So, what you are suggesting is, if people are unhappy with the judiciary, they should vote BN out?
Q: But what if people want a BN government, but they also want you to ensure a clean judiciary?
A: So then go talk to the judges — why talk to us? I’m the Executive. How can they ask me to sack the chief justice (CJ)?
Q: You’re the de-facto Law Minister. And they are not asking for a sacking — they are asking for a more transparent appointment system.
A: We’re talking about the independence of the judiciary. I don’t speak for the judges. You want to clean up the judiciary, go and speak to the judge. Then, once the judges decide, we will accommodate the procedures. Lawyers can criticise the judges or judiciary if they want to. But if I, as an MP, criticise, then I am interfering. So, the best thing the lawyers can do is speak to the judges — tell them how important it is to clean up the judiciary. I’m sure the judges are also concerned about their image. And if they so decide, and say, “Look, it is time that we change", then we will accommodate them — amend the Constitution, or whatever. It has to come through the judiciary — not from me. When they (the lawyers) went to the prime minister they are asking him to interfere. Tak boleh (Cannot). Twenty years ago, they were very angry with us. The prime minister used the procedure to sack the CJ. Now you are asking us to use the procedure to do the same thing? Why is it that 20 years ago we cannot do that, but now we can? Is this at the whims and fancy of the Bar Council members? I feel their problem is with the individual; not with the system. There is a Malay saying: Marah nyamuk jangan bakar kelambu. You are upset with one individual, you want to throw away the entire system. Later, if you have another system, and you don’t get along with the CJ, do you want to change the system again?
Q: But if we had a transparent system, perhaps all judicial appointees would be acceptable to the people.
A: But if you have a royal commission for the appointment and promotion of judges, you might not agree with the decision, too, because members of the royal commission are also human beings. Tell me, who appoints the commission? The system is the same. The appointment of the commission will be made by the king, on the advice of the prime minister. The commission would be there, but the Bar Council will not be happy, and then you’ll have another system (change).
Q: Can the commission be appointedd by consensus or stakeholders?
A: Why stakeholders? Stakeholders are people too. Do you want to have an election? You know what will happen — people will campaign to become members of the commission and then they’ll be compromised, because they want to be chosen by the people. And then the judges will have to kow tim (settle) with them again — it’s the same thing. Are we to change just because 1,000 lawyers are unhappy? The Constitution must be amended by two-thirds of MPs; and the two-thirds represent the majority of the people. If we MPs are not convinced, how can we amend the Constitution? We can’t listen to the views of just 1,000 lawyers. Since when was the view of 1,000 lawyers more important than that of the 11 million who voted for us? Lawyers are not the only stakeholders. It is also the people in the streets — they are the ones who go to court.
Q: You have said the government was happy with the current system of appointments. Why?
A: We found that the system works for us. We inherited this system (from the British), and for 50 years it has served us well. Something which has not brought us any problem, why should we change? If we need to change this system, we would need a clear indication from the judiciary. Even then, before you change you have to go and see the Malay rulers. Out of courtesy, you have to tell them. Any slight change, we have to see the Malay rulers first. Once they agree, then you’ve got to get the agreement of the judges also, because this involves them. am only interested in no interference by the Executive. When I became minister in charge of the judiciary, I wanted to make sure that what happened 20 years ago should not happen now. So, please do not ask us to interfere with the judiciary. The prime minister is a good man, he respects that, so he doesn’t interfere. That’s why you can see judges now making decisions which may sometimes be negative towards the government. That’s okay. They are free to make their decisions without interference. The same goes for how judges should be appointed. But if the call for change comes from the judges, it’s okay.
Q: Is the tenure of the chief justice going to be extended?
A: I don’t know. I don’t know anything.
Q: The video-clip issue will not yet be settled at the time of his retirement (scheduled for Thursday). Don’t you think that it’s rather unfortunate for him to retire before this matter is settled?
A: I don’t know whether it’s fortunate or unfortunate. That is the prerogative of the prime minister.
Q: Has the prime minister indicated anything to you?
A: No. As I said, I don’t interfere. I only do things which the prime minister asks me to do. I never ask about things that I am not supposed to be making decisions or that I am not supposed to know.
Q: If you just take into account what is printed in the media and what comes out in the blogs, it would appear that there is a crisis in the judiciary.
A: To me, if there were no newspapers, if there were no blogs, then it’s just mere chit-chat in the coffeeshop. That’s all.
Q: Coffeeshop chit-chat is not important?
No. The people are important. This is a government elected by the people, for the people. So, people means the majority. If we didn’t have blogs, if we didn’t have newspapers, who in this world would know about it? But because of technological developments, you are able to chit-chat (about it). It’s just chit-chat.
Q: But the fear that is felt is genuine.
A: So what do you want me to do? Ban all these bloggers? Shut down all the newspapers? I don’t think so. We must live with the fact that this is now a modern world. Technology has enabled us to get to know each other so news gets moved faster.
Q: So, you don’t think it’s important to try to address the worries of these people?
A: No. It’s not important. Why do you put so much importance on bloggers? You know what rubbish has been written in the blogs?
Q: Do you read blogs?
A: I don’t. I don’t waste my time. The few pieces that people print for me are just rubbish. I’d rather spend my time to do things that are constructive; that go down directly to the people who are really in need of the help of the government. Our bloggers are really not up to standard. When they put up something, it’s not something that they want to discuss in a very intellectual way. It’s more because of their anger - the language they use. Why should I read all this rubbish? When the standard of our bloggers is upgraded, then probably I will look at what is written. But anyway, they are a minority. My concern is for the majority.
Q: Indians in Malaysia are a minority. Does that mean that they don’t count?
A: No, not in that minority sense. I am talking about bloggers. When you talk about minority in the sense of perkauman, they are very important, because they are our rakyat, a rakyat that needs to be helped.Bloggers don’t need to be helped. They are merely throwing rubbish into the blog. I have no concern for and care about bloggers. The problems of Indians as a minority is different from the problems of the bloggers. You must appreciate that. I don’t care about the bloggers, but I do care about the minority Indians. In my constituency, I take care of them. You can go to my constituency and see what I have done for the Indian minority. I was the one to open the training in Mara for the Indian youths. These are my concerns.
Q: What did you mean when you said that, by walking, the lawyers were behaving like the opposition?
A: Lawyers have got stature in the eyes of the public. And they are apolitical. Also, I have told them that we will work together; never again should the confrontation of 20 years ago be repeated. It doesn’t look good when the government is at odds with either the judiciary or the Bar Council. So, I opened up the doors, I’ve helped them in many ways, to hasten the Legal Profession Act (Amendment) for instance. I did not close my door to them. So, I was surprised when they suddenly decided to walk and demonstrate. I feel sad, because these are lawyers — my profession also — and I would rather see them being accorded the respect that should be given to them. If the memorandum is from the Bar Council, they would have been given an appointment to see the PM. I would have preferred that the memorandum was brought to the PM’s office. They would sit down with the PM, discuss for one or two hours, and then hand the memorandum over. But by walking, it is like you are already partisan, you have already made up your mind to oppose the government; that you cannot work with the government, that’s bad.
Q: Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan said the reason they walked was that they felt all their appeals were falling on deaf ears.
A: It will fall on deafer ears, I can tell you.
Q: But why would you want to cover your ears?
A: They should know — they are lawyers. Their profession is adversarial. When they go in to court, there are two sides — the defendant and the plaintiff. Even the two counsel cannot agree on how the law should be interpreted. So, you need the judge. So, they fight. But at the end of the day, they respect the decision made by the judge. They go out, shake hands, that’s it. In giving their views on the judiciary, they must understand that there are two sides to the argument. And theirs may not be the right one. So they must accept the decision. As lawyers, they should. They cannot expect that whatever memorandum they give to us, we must agree. Why couldn’t they have called to make an appointment? I’m sure the PM would have met them.
Q: Maybe walking just says that they are partisan towards justice?
A: I wasn’t complaining about their memorandum. It was the way they did it — demonstrating on the street. The opposition was there. When you go on the street, how are you going to stop the opposition from coming in? In a meeting with the PM, those who are the opposition — who are not genuine lawyers — cannot go in. You should be apolitical. You are an NGO, you are not an opposition party. You have stature, you’ve got a position in public, people look at you with respect. But the moment you take to the street, who is going to respect you? They’ll laugh at you. There are people who are laughing at you — but they don’t write in the papers Bodoh punya kerja! (fool’s errand).
Q: Is there anything wrong in walking for your beliefs?
A: No. But that is the way of the opposition. If you are a political party, we can understand. But if you are a respectable society, that’s not an honourable way to do it — not when the government accords you respect. How can you bring yourself so low? The moment you do that, we don’t respect you. If I say to you, “M****r*****r you!", can you say, “Eh, let us sit down, we’ll talk about it.” No! You are lawyers, man! People respect you. So, do it in an honourable way. When the president of the Bar Council wants an appointment with the PM, she or he gets it. That’s how it is. That’s what I wanted, and I would have accommodated that. But they didn’t contact me. I was waiting. Ambiga knows my doors are open.
Q: If, for instance, the Bar Council wants to take that avenue now, can they still take it?
A: They can. I have already told them, go and engage with the judges. But if they ask me to do what they want me to do towards the judiciary, I won’t do it because I am the Executive.
Q: The Bar Council claims that they have never been able to get an appointment with the CJ.
A: He’s retiring anyway. I told them, “Fairuz is also a human being. Kalau you criticise, criticise, criticise dia — dia mana mau layan you.” (If you keep criticising him, he won’t entertain you). I can get a lot of things out of you if I talk to you nicely, but if I start shouting at you, do you think you will accommodate me? No way!
Q: But you are more than an ordinary person. You are also the de facto law minister.
A: But you cannot divorce me from the fact that I am also a human being.
Q: That’s very irresponsible.
A: Human beings, there are ways, how you do it. You want something, you talk. You don’t shout, and then expect to get something, no way.
Q: Why didn’t the government empower the panel to compel witnesses?
A: Because we have to first determine the authenticity of the video clip, to make it into a formal and genuine complaint.
Q: What if the video clip is genuine, but the person doesn’t want to come forward?
A: That’s not our problem. We have already set up the panel, it’s for them. As I’ve said, if I was the one who made the complaint, I would be very happy, I’d come (forward) and co-operate. There’s nothing to fear. (Opposition MP Lim) Kit Siang said to me this morning (Wednesday) the problem is not that they are afraid of the public taking action against them; but they are afraid of the government. I think that’s no excuse.
Q: Why can’t you set up something that can compel a person to come forward?
A: Then you are forcing people. We want it to be voluntary. When you make a complaint to the police, are you being forced to make the complaint, or do you genuinely want to complain? You see, that is the problem (with the current situation). You have to come to us. Even if you don’t trust us with the tape, then we can always tell that fellow to come, show the tape, then we see, and you can take back the tape. But even then they don’t want to come forward. And their reason is that they are scared of the government. That’s not a reason.