Our dear ex-PM from our neighbouring country had been recently probed for apparent scandals over appointments in the judicial system. Dr Mahathir was asked to assist in investigations regarding his influence over the appointments of official during his term.

There had been suspicion since the last century that appointments in the judicial system had been influenced by political powers as opposed to being free from any strongholds. In any judicial system, it is important for it to be free from political influences so as to enable an unbiased, fair and corruption-free judgement in any court case, which is why political influences in any judicial system undermines the integrity of the country in providing fair trial. This potential affects how foreigners do business with the country.

Although I wasn’t able to find out more about the appointment system in Singapore, the Singapore government is apparently the least corrupt government in Asia, quoted from the Corruption Perceptions Index, Transparency International 2007. More information can be found at http://www.psd.gov.sg/ – before it expires.

PUTRAJAYA – MALAYSIAN anti-corruption officials have interviewed former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad as part of their investigation into a scandal over judicial appointments.

Dr Mahathir, whose critics say he presided over a weakening of the judiciary during his 22 years in power, said on Saturday that three officials had come to interview him on Friday for about an hour. He did not reveal the questions or his answers.

‘The anti-corruption agency interviewed me and asked me questions and I answered them,’ the 82-year-old, who retired as leader in late 2003, told reporters.

The government has ordered a royal commission of inquiry into allegations that a lawyer with connections to government played a role in influencing judicial appointments.

It followed the release in September by opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim of a video said to have been recorded in 2002 and purporting to show the lawyer boasting to a judge over the phone of his ability to influence appointments.

In Malaysia, judicial appointments are made by the king, on the advice of the prime minister, though the Malaysian Bar Council has been lobbying for years for a special commission to handle the appointment of judges, free from politics.

Dr Mahathir has always denied he sought to interfere in the judicial process during his rule, though Malaysian justice has been dogged since the late 1980s by the perception that it is not free from government interference.

Asked on Saturday for his criteria in appointing judges, Dr Mahathir said he had only considered their judicial merits.

‘Obviously when you promote people, you have to look into their qualifications, also their background and performance when they were magistrates,’ he said after launching a book at his think-tank in the administrative capital of Putrajaya.

Dr Mahathir said he would also appear, if required, to give evidence at public hearings of the royal commission of inquiry.

The hearings are scheduled to begin next month.

‘Well, if I am required to testify, if the law requires I should testify, I cannot say no,’ he said. — REUTERS

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 22nd December 2007

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