KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 7 — Former de facto Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has refuted his successor Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz's claim that the six Supreme Court judges who lost their jobs in the 1988 judicial crisis were not sacked.
"I have only this to say. The judges had been sacked and a miscarriage of justice of the gravest kind has been committed," he told The Malaysian Insider today of the judges who were removed in the fallout from an intense dispute in Umno which saw the party being deregistered.
Yesterday, Nazri, the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, announced in Parliament that RM10.5 million was paid as ex-gratia to former Lord President Tun Salleh Abas and the five others, explaining that requests from MPs had forced the government to renege on a promise by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi to keep the amounts secret.
Stating that "if they were sacked, there would be no pension," Nazri claimed that the judges were not sacked as pensions were paid to and "accepted faithfully" by Salleh, Tan Sri Azmi Kamaruddin, Tan Sri George Edward Seah Kim Seng, Tan Sri Wan Hamzah Mohd Salleh and the families of the late Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdolcadeer and the late Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawanteh.
Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had been portrayed as the villain in the saga considered by the Bar Council to have marked the end of judicial independence, but he has consistently denied the charge by pointing out that the judges had been removed by properly set up tribunals.
Abdullah’s government had announced the decision to pay the judges the ex-gratia sum in his speech at the Bar Council dinner on April 17.
"The government would like to recognise the contributions of these six judges to the nation, their commitment towards upholding justice and to acknowledge the pain and loss they have endured," he had said.
Zaid, then the de facto Law Minister, had initiated the effort which came under criticism from Dr Mahathir and his supporters.
The Malaysian Insider understands that the Cabinet had decided to refer to the monies as "goodwill ex-gratia payments," as stated in Abdullah's April 17 speech, instead of "compensation" as the latter would imply an admission of guilt.
Since his resignation from the Cabinet and Senate, there has been a push by some ministers, including his successor Nazri, to disclose the sum in the name of accountability.
Judges In 1988 Judicial Crisis Sacked, Says Mahathir
PUTRAJAYA, Nov 8 (Bernama) -- Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the three judges involved in the 1988 judicial crisis were sacked and not asked to retire early as stated by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamad Nazri Aziz.
"As far as I know, they were sacked," he told reporters when asked to comment on the matter at the Perdana Leadership Foundation, here.
Former Lord President Tun Salleh Abas, the late Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawan Teh and Datuk George Edward Seah were dismissed from office after a tribunal found them guilty of misconduct in the 1988 judicial crisis.
Three other judges, Tan Sri Mohd Azmi Kamaruddin, the late Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdoolcader and Tan Sri Wan Hamzah Mohd Salleh, were suspended but subsequently reinstated.
Dr Mahathir said, however, that the former judges still received a pension on compassionate grounds. Dr Mahathir said that despite the fact that he was sacked, Salleh had rendered service to the government in the years when he was there.
"To cut him off completely from his pension is very cruel, so it was decided that he and the other judges get their pensions," he said.
Last Thursday, Nazri said in the Dewan Rakyat that the tribunal had never recommended the sacking of the judges but required them to retire early.
He had earlier revealed in the house that Salleh was paid RM5 million in ex-gratia payment by the government, Seah and the late Wan Suleiman Pawan Teh RM2 million each, and Eusoffe, Wan Hamzah and Azmi RM500,000 each.
Dr Mahathir declined comment when asked whether the ex-gratia payments were sufficient, saying that the question should be posed to former Minister in the Prime Minister's Department and de facto Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim.