Monday, July 2, 2018

Senior lawyer: Shake-up a welcome change for now

The Star
by Royce Tan

PETALING JAYA: The rationalisation proposal to make nine agencies independent entities and which reports directly to Parliament is seen as a welcome change by many. 

However, several concerns have been raised, especially in the event of an elective “dictatorship”.

Senior lawyer Datuk Roger Tan said if there was an absolute majority in Parliament one day, the issue of an Executive dominance would arise. 

He called for the Committee of Institutional Reforms to look into how to prevent this from happening. 

“It is a good move to preserve the independence of institutions, such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the Election Commission, but it may not necessarily be good if one day the Government has an absolute majority in Parliament. 

“We must have necessary safeguards against any abuse, especially by the Government of the day that controls Parliament. 

“If one day we have an elective dictatorship, the Government will then be able to take control of these institutions,” he said. 

Tan said that posts such as the MACC chief commissioner or the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) commissioners should be elected by a bipartisan committee, comprising MPs from both divides. 

He said there was also a need to amend the Acts of the respective commissions for them to be appointed by the committee. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The beginning of a new Malaysia

The Sunday Star
by Roger Tan

The new government’s priorities should be to restore the rule of law, redress miscarriages of justice and bring about reforms to our public institutions.

ON May 10, Malaysians woke up to a new country, signaling the dawn of a new era.

The unprecedented GE14 results have obviously proved to the world that we the citizens are the masters of our own ship – we decide when and whether to repair, sink and rebuild it, let alone rock it! We should also take pride in the smooth and peaceful transfer of power. 

But GE14 victors should not use it to exact revenge on the vanquished in that they have received their comeuppance or take delight in their political schadenfreude. Instead, the new government’s priorities should be to restore the rule of law, redress miscarriages of justice and bring about reforms to our institutions of government. 

What then is the rule of law? This concept of the rule of law is also the fourth guiding principle of our Rukun Negara. To make it simple for our readers, it is best summed up in the words of Dr Thomas Fuller, who wrote in 1733, “Be you never so high, the law is above you.” In other words, no one including the king could disregard the law with impunity. As the English jurist, Henry Bracton (c. 1210 – c. 1268) put it, “the king is under no man but under God and the law because the law makes the king”. 

In Malaysia, the ascendancy of the law is also enshrined in Article 8 of the Federal Constitution that all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law. 

It is ironic that the reforms are now being pursued at great pace by the new Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who was also the old Prime Minister who had pursued Machiavellian policies and undermined some of the institutions during his previous rule. 

But he is now one person most loved by Malaysians and best suited to undertake this restoration, and rightly so because without him, whether one likes it or not, Pakatan Harapan would not have won GE14. 

What is most gratifying, however, is what Tun Mahathir said when he first took office, that the component parties in Pakatan are of equal standing, regardless of the number of seats respectively secured by them. This is unlike the component parties in Barisan Nasional who had to kowtow to the dominant party UMNO. 

Likewise, the Prime Minister’s relationship with his cabinet will be governed by the concept of primus inter pares or first among equals. 

It is hoped that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who has turned 70 will be now wiser. My generation remembers the damage caused by his pursuit of ethnocentric policies and ‘crony capitalism’ when he was a deputy prime minister. 

It is also good for him to always remember that when he was at his lowest ebb when first arrested on September 20, 1998, it was those from the opposition such as Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh who had gone to his aid. Hence, it remains a prayer of all Malaysians that when he takes over the reins, he will be a benevolent leader pursuing inclusive policies, making every Malaysian feel that they have a sense of belonging in this great nation. After all, it is a Malaysian tsunami that swept Pakatan into power.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Lawyer: Government can terminate contract of A-G

The Star

By Maizatul Nazlina

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government can terminate the contract of Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali (pic), says senior lawyer Datuk Roger Tan.

This follows after Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced that Apandi has been told to take leave and that his duties will be taken up by the Solicitor-General.

The Prime Minister said although the A-G's contract has been recently renewed for another three years, the government would go through the proper process to initiate investigations against Apandi. 

According to Tan, the Government could terminate Apandi's contract before the three years, subject to the terms and conditions.

His contract was extended to 2021, by which time he will be aged 71.

He said unlike former A-G Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, Apandi was not a career officer.

Tan explained that Gani was a "legal officer" when he was said to have resigned due to "ill health".

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Lawyer: Dr M only needs support of MPs to be PM

The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR: A senior lawyer agreed with Prime Minister-designate Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's interpretation that he can lead the country with the majority support of Members of Parliament (MPs).

Datuk Roger Tan (pic) said Article 43(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution refers to a member of parliament – not the party or coalition of the majority of the MPs.

"Since all the Pakatan MPs have signed a written declaration to support Tun Mahathir, it is hoped that all government institutions will immediately give effect to the sacrosanct will of the people expressed through the ballot box," he said.

Pakatan Harapan has asked the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V to swear Dr Mahathir as the 7th Prime Minister by Thursday evening.

Dr Mahathir said he had the support of 135 MPs, surpassing the 112 needed for a simple majority.

His remarks come after outgoing prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said he accepted "the will of the people" but stopped short of admitting defeat.

Dr Mahathir said that four parties in the coalition have also "written to the King, asking for a swearing-in ceremony to take place the sooner".