As much as Dr Mahathir wishes and comfortable to erase that he is to be blamed for Tun Salleh Abas’s removal during the judicial crisis in 1988, even from the opposition bloc supporters find them difficult to apprehend his explanations. Each time he speaks up about the issue, they are seen to be as mere excuses rather than appreciating them as clarifying them. Alas, it is still haunting Dr Mahathir.
During his tenure as the Prime Minister, this episode was considered as judiciary attack and today or perhaps forever, despite Dr Mahathir is now allying with the oppositions, it is still reflected on as one of Dr Mahathir’s dark history that has ruined the country’s democratic system with the intervention in the judiciary that should be free of any political and administrative influence.
Dr Mahathir’s latest accusation that Tun Salleh Abas was removed at the will of the former Agong of the time. He also blamed the former Attorney General TS Abu Talib Othman for using his name. But barely within 24 hours, Abu Talib has denied it.
He rebutted that Tun Salleh Abas’s letter to Agong was not due to noise issues arising from the renovation works as claimed by Dr Mahathir but he is rather concerned with judges’ dissatisfaction as Tun M has been openly attacking judicial institutions including in Parliament.
Tun Salleh Abas along with one of the judges who were removed during the episode, K Das, published a book titled “May Day for Justice”. This is the book that has ever since turned as the main reference for the Bar Council, law students, public and certainly the lawmakers of the opposition bloc, not merely to understand the events but as their political campaign materials against the government.
Among the written chronology of events in the “May Day for justice” foreword are as such;
“When all else is forgotten, this question alone may remain to haunt us: Did I lie when I said the Prime Minister of Malaysia accused me of being biased in cases involving the political party, UMNO? Did I invent this story that the Prime Minister raised the matter when he gave me the reasons why I was found unsuitable to remain Lord President of the Supreme Court of Malaysia and should, therefore, step down? That because of my speeches about UMNO I was biased as a judge?
“I have no doubt – and few would now disagree – that it was the UMNO saga that led to my destruction as a judge.”
There are other interesting inquiring that need to be addressed. Among them, why is the Bar Council no longer in the forefront to issue statements to uphold their stand against Dr Mahathir’s actions over the years. Next, Kit Siang and DAP too are no longer able to speak up whether opposed or agreeing with Dr Mahathir’s recent claims.
Among others, Zaid Ibrahim who was the then de facto law minister, the person responsible for demanding BN government to apologize to Tun Salleh Abas and made the government obliging to pay the RM5mil ex-gratia sum to Tun Salleh Abas for disagreeing with Dr Mahathir’s dismissing the 5 judges involved during the 1988 judicial crisis, why couldn’t he speak up any longer? A gag order from DAP for the silence?
By being gravely silent about the issue now, what the Bar Council and DAP are telling us is that they have been wrongly accusing Dr Mahathir of the whole episode. Hence, their claim to BN’s intervention in the judiciary is merely giving the impression that it was meant to be the opposition political agenda alone.
In actual fact and make no mistake about it that these are the figures including Dr Mahathir who are fully responsible to ruin the minds of the people and erode their faith against the judiciary for its independence and credibility, thus political interference seemingly was involved. The bottom line, it was just a self-interest for their politics.