Legally Speaking by Roger Tan
|Respected figure: The writer with Sultan Azlan.|
Our judges, regardless of their race and religion, must always be mindful that they have taken an oath to preserve, protect and defend our Constitution not for some but for all Malaysians.
I HAVE wanted to write this for some time – my tribute to the late Sultan Azlan Shah who passed away on May 28, 2014. Not so much because he had been reading my column, but rather on two occasions which I had the honour of meeting him, he had encouraged me to keep on writing.
I was also troubled that when he passed away, he had not been accorded the appropriate recognition by leaders of our legal profession of his contribution to the administration of justice in this country.
This could be due to some differences with the Sultan’s decision not to call for fresh state elections when Pakatan Rakyat lost the majority control of the Perak state assembly in February, 2009. I had at that time written extensively that the Sultan’s decision was constitutionally correct.
Interestingly, the Federal Court’s judgment which subsequently endorsed the correctness of his royal decision is now being relied upon by his then most vociferous and sometimes insolent critics in Pakatan Rakyat to justify replacement of the embattled Selangor Mentri Besar, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim without the need for a state assembly sitting or the dissolution of the assembly.
Sultan Azlan belonged to the generation of great Malaysian jurists including the likes of Tun Mohamed Suffian Hashim and Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdoolcader. He was, after all, the youngest ever appointed High Court Judge and Lord President.
Not many knew that whenever the Malaysian Bar stood up for the independence of the judiciary, he was always there with and for us.
I still remember the keynote address he gave at the 14th Malaysian Law Conference on October 29, 2007; of which I was the organising chairman.
The conference was held one month after 2,000 or so lawyers walked for justice from the Palace of Justice to the Prime Minister’s office to hand over a memorandum asking the government to set up a royal commission of inquiry to investigate the V.K. Lingam video tape which implicated the then chief justice, Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim.