Rule By Law: by Malik Imtiaz Sarwar

It has become manifest that the Rule of Law has collapsed in Malaysia.

Even if Anwar Ibrahim were to be found guilty of sodomy, the court of public opinion would have acquitted him. Even if the Deputy Prime Minister were shown to be wholly unconnected with the events underlying the Altantuya murder trial, that court would have already found otherwise. It would not matter if all the police officers, prosecutors and judges in the country were to say otherwise or if all the untruths, one way or the other, were undone. Malaysians, or at least a very large number of them, have lost faith in the system.

The Rule of Law does not exist merely for there being present the institutions of the administration of justice. Courts, prosecutors, a legal profession and a police force do not in themselves give rise to the Rule of Law. That can only occur if they collectively function in a manner that allows for the full confidence of the Malaysian public. Without such confidence, these institutions are nothing more than empty shells.

There is no longer a basis for continued public confidence in these institutions. Where the police and the Judiciary are concerned, this is a state of affairs that has for all purposes and intents been formally recognized by two Royal Commissions of Enquiry. The office of the Attorney General is suborned to the Executive and its impartiality has been put in doubt, its decisions and conduct having become increasingly questionable. The legal profession has been largely neutered by self-interest or the need for self-preservation.

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