Did MSM’s reporting on Justice Ian Chin’s revelation tell all?

Justice Ian Chin of Sarawak High Courts made a shocking revelation today, about how a ‘Former Prime Minister’ was unhappy and exerted his power to a election petition case. Then it was a ‘boot camp’, an indoctrination process for the bench.

The Star reported this:

Wednesday June 11, 2008

Justice Ian Chin tells of threats and indoctrination attempt

PETALING JAYA: A High Court judge here revealed that a former prime minister had threatened judges. Justice Datuk Ian H. C. Chin also said he and selected judges were sent to a boot camp to ensure they got the message.

Justice Chin said this before hearing an election petition challenging the results of the Sarikei parliamentary seat which was won by a Barisan Nasional candidate by just 51 votes.

In a report in the Borneo Post yesterday, that comes hot on the heels of the findings of the Royal Commission on the V.K. Lingam video clip, Justice Chin said the threat from the former prime minister came after he handed down two judgments in 1997.

One was a judgment on a libel case involving MGG Pillai and Tan Sri Vincent Tan where he refused to give what he considered to be an astronomical award.

Justice Datuk Ian H. C. Chin… he and selected judges were sent to a boot camp to ensure they got the message

Justice Chin said the other judgment was in an election petition on Bukit Bangunan in the Sri Aman Division that he ruled in favour of Independent candidate Donald Lawan against Barisan Nasional candidate Mong Dagang.

“Shortly after the two judgments, the Judges Conference was held from April 24, 1997 where the then prime minister issued a thinly veiled threat to remove judges by referring them to a tribunal and stating that, though it may be difficult to do so, it was still done.”

Justice Chin said the former prime minister expressed unhappiness with what he termed ‘the Borneo Case’.

“Everyone knew which case he was referring to,” he added.

Justice Chin said after the threat, the former Prime Minister said people should pay heavily for libel and he only got a single response from a Court of Appeal judge who asked if he would be happy with a sum of RM1mil as damages for libel.

“He approved of it and later made known his satisfaction by promoting this judge (since deceased) to the Federal Court over many others who were senior to him.”

A month later, Justice Chin said he and select judges and judicial officers were packed off to a boot camp from May 26-30, 1997 where there was an attempt to indoctrinate them with the view “that the government interest was more important than all else.”

“Stating this devilish notion was no less a person than the President of the Court of Appeal. Everyone was quiet during the question sessions.”

Justice Chin added “the perversion of justice” continued and recounted an episode when a fellow judge Muhammad Kamil Awang told him he had received a telephone call from the then Chief Justice asking him to dismiss the election petition that he was going to hear in Kota Kinabalu.

“We went into the possibility of making a police report or of writing to the Chief Justice a letter to record what he had said over the telephone but in the end he decided against it since it would be his word against that of the Chief Justice,” he said.

Justice Chin said he was happy to later on learn that Kamil did not bow to the pressure and went on to hear the petition, thereafter making a decision based on law and evidence.

Justice Chin said he wanted the parties involved in the current petition and their counsel to hear his disclosure in case they wanted him to recuse himself.

The High Court judge said he had twice stood unsuccessfully as a Barisan Nasional candidate for a parliamentary and later for a state seat in Sabah in the 1980s and in one of those elections he was defeated by a DAP candidate.

“Now, though he is no longer the prime minister and so no longer able to carry out his threat to remove judges, the coalition party that he led is still around” and the second respondent was a Barisan candidate and “it may cross someone’s mind that I may have an axe to grind against the party concerned or any party thereof.”

To this, he said: “No amount of words from me would assuage you of your worry. You will have to read my judgments as to whether they are according to the evidence and the law or were influenced by threat.”

Chin then adjourned for half an hour to let the parties consider whether they wished to make any application for his recusal.

However, the parties – DAP’s Dr Wong Hua Seh and Barisan’s Ding Kuong Hiing – expressed their full confidence in him in presiding over the hearing of the case.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was prime minister at the relevant time. He was not available for comment yesterday.


Some salient points were conveniently omitted by the editors of major English dailies on this revelation by Justice Chin. This so called ‘boot camp’ was closed by then Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

So why is this story surfacing now, in this tone? Why important points about this story was omitted? Is it because there is some vendetta that the Judge thought Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir “blocked” his promotion, which eventually went to Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjun as the Chief Judge of Borneo?

Could it be, this story is hyped up at this juncture, as a diversion to the real issues of exorbitant retail price of petrol, which is affecting the lives of majority of Malaysians?

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is expected to respond to this, very soon. Conveniently, these ‘attacks’ on ‘Dr. Mahathir’s camp’, namely Dato’ Mokhzani and Tan Sri Sanusi Junid ( who was conveniently dismissed at the pleasure of HRH Sultan of Pahang, the Constitutional Head on 2 June 2008 ) are getting more vile. Not to mention on the statesman himself.

*Updated 3.15pm

Lawyer Matthias Chang has his opinion on Justice Chin’s statement:





By Matthias Chang

Conduct Unbecoming of A Judge

Justice Datuk Ian Chin must be sacked for conduct unbecoming of a judge and prosecuted for sedition and contempt.

My grounds for calling such actions to be taken against the Judge are as follows:

A Unsubstantiated Allegations

The so-called disclosure made by Justice Datuk Ian Chin and published by the Star and New Straits Times, that the former Prime Minister threatened the judiciary has been contradicted by two judges as at 11th June 2008, namely:

1) Datuk Shaik Daud Mohamad Ismail, former Court of Appeal Judge

“It is a real shock. I do remember the (then) prime minister conveying the message about higher damages in defamation suits but not of any threats of removing judges via tribunal.”

(Emphasis added)

NST 11th June 2008

At page 6

2) A serving Judge (Name not disclosed in NST)

“Tun Eusoffe Chin (then Chief Justice) had invited (Tun) Dr. Mahathir (Mohamad) to personally address judges at the 1997 judges’ conference at a hotel in Shah Alam. The former PM did say that the government would not introduce a law to cap damages awarded to a party in a defamation suit and left it to judges to control it. He did also raise (Datuk) Ian Chin’s election petition argument, which the former PM said was “against us”. However, we did not speak up because the majority of senior judges felt that Chin’s ruling on that case was legally flawed. There were about 70 judges at the meeting but I think the majority of us, including Chin, were not influenced by what Dr. Mahathir said. I feel Chin took the opportunity to speak from the Bench because he thought Dr. Mahathir was responsible for blocking his promotion”.

(Emphasis added)

NST 11th June 2008

At page 6

It stands to reason, from the above statements, that Justice Datuk Ian Chin had no basis whatsoever in making the wild allegations against the former prime minister.

It is an indictment against the integrity of Justice Datuk Ian Chin that a serving judge is of the view that Justice Datuk Ian Chin’s wild allegations against the former prime minister may be actuated by malice and or self-manufactured delusion that his promotion was blocked by the former prime minister.

Any reasonable man and woman, in the light of the above wild allegations, can only come to the conclusion that Justice Datuk Ian Chin is not only, not deserving promotion, but to be appointed to the high office of a judge in 1992.

B) Reference to the term “Boot Camp”

To refer to a conference of judges and judicial officers on the 26th – 30th May 1997 as a “Boot Camp” to be “indoctrinated” is to use language unbecoming of a judge.

C) Bringing the Judiciary Into Disrepute

By making unsubstantiated the allegations against the former Chief Justice and the former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Datuk Ian Chin has scandalised the entire judiciary and it is submitted that he has also committed contempt of court.

Questionable Motives

On reading Justice Datuk Ian Chin’s statement, one cannot but question his motives.

All we need to ask is the simple question, “Why now?”

If Justice Datuk Ian Chin is a man of principle, he ought to have made a police report and it is a lame excuse to say that “We went to the possibility of making a police report or of writing to the Chief Justice a letter to record what he said over the telephone but in the end he decided against it since it would be his word against that of the Chief Justice.”

If, in fact his allegations are true, as a judge upholding justice and truth, Justice Datuk Ian Chin should have faith in his own integrity and his fellow judges that ultimately truth and justice will prevail.

But, instead he makes excuses and his action is that of a coward and a man without principle.

In the circumstances, I called upon this disreputable judge to an Open Public Debate on the issues raised in his Open Court Statement within a week from the date hereof.

If he refuses, I am calling him a coward, a liar and a man unfit to continue in office as a judge.

And I challenge him to hold me in contempt of his court in making this challenge!

And I am warning Justice Datuk Ian Chin that I intend to lodge a police report against him on his unfounded allegation on the expiry of my notice to him to accept my challenge!

The courage of Justice Datuk Ian Chin’s convictions will be tested by the courage of my convictions!

A Challenge to the Current Chief Justice

If the current Chief Justice was present in the said conference, I demand as a citizen and a lawyer (and lawyers are officers of the Court) to know from the Chief Justice whether the allegation that the former prime minister threatened the judiciary is correct.

If not, whether the Chief Justice intends to advise the Yang Di-Petuan Agong and the Prime Minister to convene a Tribunal to investigate into the misconduct of this despicable judge and to recommend his dismissal and to hold the said judge in contempt of court.

A Challenge to Ambiga

I read with disgust the press statement of Ambiga, the President of Bar Council which presupposes that what Justice Datuk Ian Chin disclosed in Open Court was the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

If the allegation by the said judge is found to be without basis whatsoever, I am challenging Ambiga to have the courage of her convictions to lodge a police report against the said judge and to lead another “walk to the Prime Minister’s office in Putrajaya” to demand that the said judge be dismissed.

Ambiga, I have previously issued a challenge to you for a public debate.

I am now issuing another challenge to debate on the statement of Justice Datuk Ian Chin. You are to reply within 48 hours from the date hereof.

If you refuse, forever hold your tongue and desists from making stupid press statements concerning the judiciary. You sound like an opportunist and you act like one.

A challenge to Judges

I am sick and fed up of judges who have no guts to speak up when in office and to live up to their oath of office.

Judges demand an independent judiciary but are unwilling to make sacrifices to ensure its independence. It is such silence in the face of such outrages misconduct by a fellow judge that confirms the public’s perception that judges are opportunists and cowards.

Why make spurious allegations now and not before?

The problem of the judiciary is to be found within the judiciary. Don’t blame third parties for your sordid state of affairs!

To Fellow Malaysians

You may have noticed by now, that whenever the Badawi Regime has a crisis eg. The UMNO crisis following the General Election disaster and now the oil price fiasco, the Badawi spin doctors would attempt to divert your attention with allegations against Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.

This happened just before the General Elections with the setting up of the Royal Commission and the wild allegations against Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.

This is another side show to throw your mind and anger away from the oil price hike to a non-issue by a frustrated old Judge who cannot even lie properly. This judge is angry because he covets the post of Chief Judge of Sarawak and Sabah. He cannot understand why Tan Sri Richard Malanjun was promoted to the post instead. He blames the former prime minister but he care not to examine is infantile behaviour. And now, the desperate politicians are taking advantage of his stupidity for their political ends!

Don’t fall for this insidious tactic of the Badawi Regime and the blogs and websites fronting for Anwar Ibrahim.

*Updated 4.00pm

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad gave his immediate response on the issue raised by Justice Chin.

*Updated Wednesday 18 June 2008 12.30pm

Finally, Former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad gave his full side of his story to what Justice Ian Chin recklessly revealed and ruckusly raised, via NST.

Published in: on June 11, 2008 at 13:10  Comments (52)