Posted by SM Maulana
FORMER Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad yesterday denied allegations that he had threatened to sack judges and ordered them to attend boot camps for pro-government indoctrination.
Tun Dr Mahathir, 82, who is criticised for suppressing judicial and press freedoms during his two decades in power, is fending off claims from a top judge, who made the revelations in open court.
‘At no time did I issue any threat against the judges,’ Dr Mahathir said on his blog chedet.com.
He admitted that the authorities had conducted courses on the national ethos, where speakers explained Malaysia’s political system with reference to ethics, moral values and democracy.
‘Thousands of people from all walks of life attended these work camps. There were hardly any complaints,’ he said.
Justice Ian Chin said he was targeted by Dr Mahathir after refusing to award ‘astronomical’ payouts in two libel cases in 1997, while a judge who agreed with the then- premier’s views was later promoted to the Federal Court.
Afterwards, Justice Chin reportedly said he was packed off to a five-day boot camp with selected judges and judicial officers.
It was without doubt ‘an attempt to indoctrinate those attending the boot camp to hold the view that the government interest (was) more important than all else when we are considering our judgment’, Justice Chin said.
Dr Mahathir stood down in 2003 and his successor, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, has been criticised for failing to carry out his promises to tackle corruption, which is deeply entrenched in politics and business.
Justice Chin’s allegations add to the pall cast over the country’s judiciary by a recent royal commission into a sensational Mahathir-era video clip that shows a top lawyer brokering judicial appointments with the help of politicians.