Suspension of ‘whistleblower judge’ a blow to fight against corruption, says C4

Topic: Whistleblower Protection

Coverage by: Free Malaysia Today

Related news: https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2021/02/06/suspension-of-whistleblower-judge-a-blow-to-fight-against-corruption-says-c4/

PETALING JAYA: The suspension of the “whistleblower judge” is a big blow to the nation’s efforts to protect those who are willing to come forward to expose corruption and misconduct, says the Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4).

It said the fate of Court of Appeal Judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer who has been suspended until retirement over his affidavit alleging judicial misconduct would discourage future whistleblowers as they will now be less likely to come forward for fear of punishment.

Hamid was suspended for six months by the Judges’ Ethics Committee (JEC) after a hearing which he refused to attend as he wanted to challenge the composition and constitutionality of the committee.

His suspension took effect from yesterday and will run until Aug 27 when he retires from office. Three years ago, he had alleged that there was judicial interference in several high-profile cases.

The centre said it was of major concern that the JEC continued with the proceedings without his presence despite his lawyer requesting an adjournment due to his poor health as well as his hearing with the Court of Appeal yesterday.

“According to the rules of natural justice, every litigant must be given the right to be heard. This right was overlooked by the JEC and not afforded to Hamid,” C4 said in a statement today.

“Never before in our history has a sitting judge so openly called out potential misconduct within the judiciary. Hamid must have known that there would be backlash, but the sheer lack of support or protection for this act of whistleblowing is astounding.”

The centre said instead, his courage had been used to punish him and to “drive fear into others who may do the same”.

It pointed out this action had shown that the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 was essentially toothless as it did not cover these circumstances.

“With this verdict, we demand answers as to what will become of Hamid’s serious revelations. During the Pakatan Harapan government, an establishment of the Royal Commission of Inquiry was promised to investigate the allegations.

“But there has been complete inaction from the current government on this. C4 demands that there are no further delays in investigating the purported abuses. It is unthinkable that allegations of such severity can be quietly left to be forgotten and eventually swept under the rug,” it said.

C4 said the judiciary is a fundamental cornerstone of our democracy and all efforts must be taken to defend its integrity and independence.

As such, it said, Hamid should be granted his right to be heard, adding that punitive action ought to be exercised only when investigations show mala fide or ill intentions.

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