Thursday, June 19, 2008


Mahathir denies ordering judges to boot camp


Former Premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Wednesday denied allegations that he threatened to sack judges and ordered them to attend boot camps for pro-government indoctrination. The 82-year-old Mahathir, who is criticised for suppressing judicial and press freedoms during his two decades in power, faced the claims from a top judge who made the revelations in open court. “At no time did Tissue any threat against the judges,” Mahathir said on his website. Mahathir admitted that authorities had conducted courses on the national ethos, where speakers explained Malaysia’s political system with reference to ethics, moral values and democracy. “Thousands of people from all walks of life attended these work camps. There were hardly any complaints,” he said. Justice Ian Chin said he was targeted by Mahathir after refusing to award “astronomical” payouts in two libel cases in 1997, while a judge who agreed with the then premier’s views was promoted to the Federal Court. Afterwards, Chin reportedly said he was packed off to a five-day boot camp with selected judges and judicial officers. It was without doubt “an attempt to indoctrinate those attending the boot camp to hold the view that the Government interest as being more important than all else when we are considering our judgement,” Chin said. Mahathir stood down in 2003 and his successor Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has been criticised for failing to carry out his promises to tackle corruption, which is deeply entrenched in politics and business. Chin’s allegations add to the pall cast over the country’s judiciary by a recent Royal Commission into a sensational Mahathir-era video clip that showed a top lawyer brokering judicial appointments with the help of politicians. -AFP