Friday, June 01, 2007

Open letter to our Prime Minister

Our dearest Prime Minister is acting so very irresponsibly. He is brushing his hands completely off the Lina Joy case and pushing the responsibility onto the shoulders of the judiciary. According to quotes from the news media, he claims that he had no hand in the verdict. However, he doesn't seem to realise that this is no longer a political or racial or religious issue. This is now a constitutional issue and for that, he is required to act. I feel that I need to educated him a bit on what our democracy really means.

Dear Sir,

Democracy is generally regarded as a system of government of the people, for the people, by the people. It was thought up to be the best form of government that we can have today as it does not grant any person omnipotent powers. However, it is more than just about the majority and votes. There is much more to it than that.

In a system of government such as ours, separation of powers between the trinity of legislative, executive and judiciary is holy enshrined in the Constitution. Our written Constitution is admitted as the highest and most supreme law in the land. The idea behind the separation of powers is to avoid any dictator from rising into power. The legislative legislates legislature, the executive executes them and the judiciary adjudicates problems.

It may seem like these three branches are independent of each other and are free to do whatever each one wants. Now, the only way that this system can work is if there are checks and balances. The system isn't designed for each branch to exercise wanton power. In fact, it's designed so that the other two branches can keep any single branch from misbehaving. Just like the three legs of a stool, if one breaks, the whole stool falls. So, if one branch breaks, our country falls apart.

Now that our judiciary is disregarding the supreme law of the land, it is setting a very dangerous precedent. If we are allowing it to randomly pick and choose which bits of the Constitution it wishes to follow, we're in serious trouble. I would like to remind you, sir, that you draw your executive powers from the Constitution (Article 43). If the Constitution ceases to exist tomorrow, you are not the Prime Minister and I don't have to treat you with any respect.

So, to say that you're washing your hands entirely of the affair is just irresponsible. It is the responsibility of the executive and legislative branches to keep the judiciary in check. When a judge is openly quoted by all the local and international media as violating the Constitution of our country, he should have no business playing judge. The Bar Council has implied this in their official statement:

(1) "Malaysians must be prepared to confront these issues maturely and dispassionately within the framework of our Federal Constitution as the supreme law of the land."

(2) "We believe that the constitutional provision in Article 11 of the Federal Constitution which guarantees freedom of religion in our country has been severely violated."

(3) "It is, therefore, vital that the necessary legislation be enacted to ensure that no citizen would be penalised when he or she exercises the individual right to choose a faith and to practice it in freedom."

In case you don't understand, sir, it says that (1) the people should stay calm and realise that the Constitution is still the supreme law of the land (2) the unnamed judge has blatantly violated the Constitution (3) the other branches should intervene to right this wrong. So, washing your hands of the affair isn't even a choice. Although it's correct that the executive and legislative branches should not meddle with the judiciary, but when it is broke, it's up to these two branches to fix it.

So, please do not be an idiot and keep saying that, "the court made a decision and I don’t question that." It is your job to question. It is within your powers to question (read the Constitution). When the answer is so blatantly obvious, it shouldn't take too long for you to find it. So, I'm asking that you do The Right Thing. Fix the problem. Otherwise, I don't think that you deserve to be the Chief Executive of our country.

With Metta,
Shawn Tan.

According to Wikipedia, that picture is one of our Prime Minister discussing with George Bush about inter-religious cooperation due to the increased violence in the Islamic world due to the Pope's comments. So, please show the world that you are able to walk the talk.


Eugene Lau said...

WOW, I thought you might have a law degree hidden up your sleeve. It seems as though as the Syariah Law has higher authorities than the Constitution itself. Very good letter indeed!

Shawn Tan said...

Seeing that our Syariah Law is enforced by the Syariah Courts, they draw their powers from the Constitution as well. That's the whole reason for having a written Constitution like ours. There is no law that is higher than the Constitution in Malaysia.

mz ayam said...

Hi there,

I was bloghopping and found your blog.
Pak Lah in his letter to voters before the general elections in '04 has promised that he will be PM for all Malaysians....

Where is he now?


Shawn Tan said...

i dunno, maybe holidaying in OZ.. but this problem is much more deep rooted than that.. he alone cannot fix it.. however, if he doesn't take the lead, no one else will bother..