Monday, April 5, 2010

Malaysian anti-Semite protests contempt of court ruling-initiates international campaign against evils of Malaysia's judiciary

NOTE: Telling this story requires time that I cannot justify spending on Matthias Chang.Nevertheless, it is amusing, as are Chang's actions disturbing. Readers will forgive me for the cut and paste job, but with references:

Matthias Chang is a Malaysian attorney who served as an adviser to former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad with whom he is still closely associated. Chang's influence was evident in Prime Minister Mahathir's infamous speech to the 2003 Islamic Summit Conference, in which he accused the Jews of world domination and oppression of the world's Muslims (read here). Chang was also behind a visit of a delegation of Holocaust deniers and "9/11 truth" advocates to Malaysia in 2006 (read here). The delegation was led by Michael Collins Piper, famous for his claim that Israel was behind the JFK assassination. During this tour, this delegation participated in a conference called “Islam, Humanity and World Peace” in which Yvonne Ridley also participated . This delegation was interviewed by the Malaysian media, addressed conferences at the University of Malaya and the International Islamic University, and visited with Prime Minister Mahathir. They also promoted the Malay translations of Pipers ouvre (Read here.)

Chang has made a post-politics career of writing books which expound at great length on apocalyptic conspiracies involving Jewish bankers, and has continued to advise Dr. Mahathir. Excerpts of "The Shadow Money-Lenders" posted online make the very confused argument that international bankers (read "Jews") have been both controlling and destabilizing the governments of the world's most powerful nations, with the exception of China, which Chang claims has somehow escaped this snare (read here). Chang blames this same international bankers conspiracy for creating both capitalism and socialism, and for the Russian Revolution, Zionism and the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank, citing familiar far-right anti-Semitic propaganda as evidence. The cover of the book warns that "THERE WILL BE BLOOD ON THE STREETS", with the word "blood" written in a blood-red, dripping typeface (read here). (Editorial note: shouldn't that be "blood in the streets"?)

In 2006 Chang attended Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "conference" of Holocaust deniers:


International Conference

"Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision

10-12 December 2006



Tuesday, 12 December 2006

14:00-15:30 - Aras Hall


Chairman: Mr Ghaderi, Director, Middle East & Africa Studies, IPIS, Iran

1. Majid Ghodarzi: Islamic Culture & Communications Organization, Iran

2. Moshe Weiss: USA

3. Mohammad Tarahi: Senior Expert, IRIB, Iran

4. Matthias Chang: Advisor to former Malaysian PM, Malaysia

In 2010 however, Chang has attempted to portray himself as a champion of justice.He has initiated an international campaign asking for letters to be sent to Malaysian Government and judicial authorities protesting the matter reported below:

Lawyer Matthias Chang refuses fine, opts for jail

KUALA LUMPUR: Matthias Chang, the ex-political secretary of the former prime minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad, refused to pay the RM20,000 fine imposed on him by the High Court for contempt of court, and will have to serve a month in jail in default.

Last Thursday Justice Noor Azian Shaari gave him a week to pay the fine.

Chang was cited for contempt when he failed to apologise to the court after an argument with the judge and a lawyer during cross-examination in his defamation suit against American Express (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.

Chang, 60, and his supporters waited at the civil court here from 3pm for the committal order to be served on him.

However, Deputy Registrar K. Pavanni only informed him at about 4.15pm that the one-week period ordered by justice Noor Azian Shaari expired late this evening, and according to the court procedure, the commital order could only be issued tomorrow morning.

Last Friday Noor Azian had dismissed his suit, and ruled that Chang had failed to prove his case after hearing witnesses from both sides as well as submissions.

The lawyer had sued American Express for breach of contract and defamation because his card was suspended.

American Express, in its defence, said that there was no evidence of breach of contract or defamation as claimed.

Earlier, at a news conference, Chang said he is prepared to be prisoned even though members of the Federation of Kwang Siew Association of Malaysia had raised RM20,000 to pay the fine.

"It's a matter of priciple. I'm willing to be jailed to prove a point that judges should not get away with their unethical behaviour and lack of decorum," he said.

Chang claimed that Noor Azian had refused to retract some derogatory remarks against his counsel in the civil suit when they attempted to draw her attention to the relevant laws.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Selangor Turf Club's Vincent Tan faction suffers loss in the Federal Court;Implications for Berjaya's Turf Club project

I have previously written about the rather premature inclusion of the Selangor Turf Club(STC) land in the virtual vault of Berjaya Land Bhd's bankable assets (see
That deal rests on a promise that Berjaya will provide each Turf Club member a bungalow from its proposed development on that land. The enticement appears to be based on the principle that an unincorporated association is not a legal entity and is thus one in which assets, rights and liabilities accrue to its members.

However, on 28 May 2009 the Federal Court in a matter brought against the STC's Committee by two of its members , decided that the STC , being a registered society pursuant to section 7 of the Societies Act 1966 (the Act) is in fact a legal entity that can own and dispose of property.

In handing down the judgement of the Court ABDUL AZIZ MOHAMAD, FCJ said:
As far as concerns the vesting aspect of the funds and property of
the Club, Rule 24(a) of the Rules(of the STC) is consistent with section 9(a) and (b) of the Act. But where the rule speaks of the Committee “as Trustees for
the Ordinary Members of the Club”, and when rule 3 speaks of ordinary
members having the right “to share with other Ordinary Members in the
property and assets of the Club”, I am of opinion that those rules are
looking to the day when the registered society that the Club is, is
dissolved, or when its registration is cancelled. When a registered
society is dissolved, section 9(h) requires that “all necessary steps shall
be taken for the disposal and settlement of the property of such society,
its claims and liabilities, according to the rules (if any) of the said society
applicable thereto”. When the registration of a registered society is
cancelled, section 17(1)(a)(b) provides, inter alia, that the property of
the society shall vest in the Director General of Insolvency who “shall
proceed to wind up the affairs of the society, and after satisfying and
providing for all debts and liabilities of the society and the costs of the
winding up shall pay the surplus assets, if any, of the society … to
members of the society according to the rules of the society …”. I
should think that, in the case of dissolution, that is also what happens to
the surplus assets of a society, in consequence of the steps that section
9(h) requires to be taken."

It would appear then that the proposal to hand each and every member a bungalow lot as part compensation for the land may well be invalid. In light of the judgement above, STC members have limited, if any, rights to the particular assets that constitute the property of the STC but rather to the surplus of assets over liabilities in the event of deregistration. If the Berjaya Land proposal is deemed valid members will in fact be sharing in the proceeds from the sale of an asset of the STC.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Defence of Qualified Privilege,once banished, returns to Malaysian courts

In the defamation matter of Tan Kok Ping v New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Bhd, Mr. Justice Ghazali Cha of the High Court in Malaysia has ruled that the New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Bhd, its former group editor-in-chief Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad and former reporter V. Ramanan, who are the defendants in the suit, were entitled to succeed on the defence of qualified privilege and therefore “the impugned articles were immune from the suit”.

Ghazali Cah also said the two articles which were subject of the action had merely given account of police investigations into an alleged forged letter and did not convey the meaning that Tan, 62, was guilty of forgery or had been a party to the forging of the letter.

“I do not agree that a reader would be overtly presumptuous and infer guilt on the plaintiff, but merely take the article to mean there was an ongoing police investigations.

“The articles merely intended to show as a result of a police report lodged, Tan as the Magnum Corporation Bhd executive chairman had been called in for questioning,” he said.

Tan had sued the defendants claiming they had falsely and maliciously printed and published, or caused to be printed and published, certain defamatory words in two articles in the New Straits Times and in the Malay Mail on April 5, 2002 which was accompanied by his photograph.

Previously, Malaysia's courts in hearing defamation matters had all but banished the defence of qualified privilege, particularly in matters that involved Tan Kok Ping's business associate, Tan Sri Dato Seri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sri Ram's reversals: Was it a case of a brahmin fearing being born again to a lower caste?

In regards to the newly appointed justice of the Federal Court Gopal Sri Ram, was it the fear of being reborn into a lower caste that brought about in the good brahmin-iyer the following reversals:

In 1995 in the matter of Vincent Tan v MGG Pillai:

A second judge on the panel, Gopal Sri Ram, also rejected an appellant's argument that the 10 million ringgit judgment was excessive because Tan Sri Tan hadn't proven the extent of damages he suffered from four articles published in Malaysian Industry in late 1993 and early 1994. Judge Sri Ram said the articles suggested that Tan Sri Tan had manipulated the government to secure lucrative contracts, adding that "this must be a warning signal to irresponsible journalists that they cannot say anything they like and get away with it," according to Bernama.
(Malaysian Appeals Panel Upholds Stiff Awards Levied in Libel Case
By Stephen Duthie ;19 April 1995,The Asian Wall Street Journal)

Then, by 2001 , an otherwise inexplicable change of heart:

In (a) celebrated judgment of Court of Appeal judge Datuk Gopal Sri Ram in 2001, the RM1 million award was reduced to RM100,000, or just one-tenth of the original amount.

More importantly, he had boldly spoken out on the pressing need to put an end to the mega trend, which began in 1996.

Sri Ram referred, in particular, to the suit that started it all - the RM10 million suit brought by tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan against several persons, including freelance journalist M.G.G. Pillai.

In his judgment, Sri Ram said this decision had been "much misunderstood".

"The underlying philosophy of that decision is that injury to reputation is as, if not more, important to a member of our society than the loss of a limb. But we think the time has come when we should check the trend set by that case.

"This is to ensure that an action for defamation is not used as an engine of oppression. Otherwise, the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression will be rendered illusory," he said.

(Reining back quantum of damages. By Carolyn Hong. 27 July 2003.New Sunday Times)

And let us not forget this little matter from the bad old days:

The most recent case is playing out in a small court room in the southwestern suburbs of Kuala Lumpur, where the mother of a 17-year-old high-school student is suing the International School of Kuala Lumpur, claiming he was unfairly dropped from the school's debate team. Damages sought: a record 6 million ringgit ($2.4 million).

The case has sparked intense interest among legal circles, educators and foreign investors in the Malaysian capital. For starters, the thin, bespectacled student, Govind Sri Ram, is the son of a prominent Court of Appeals judge, Gopal Sri Ram. And many are surprised at the speed with which the case raced through Malaysia's legal labyrinth. The trial began on January 6, less than seven months after a writ was filed with the High Court. "Normally, in a civil case, you're lucky to get a hearing within five years," a veteran lawyer notes.

The main point of interest for lawyers is that the case is breaking new legal ground. "It's the first time in Malaysian history that someone is suing on the basis of unfair discrimination," notes one. "Malaysia has no laws on discrimination."

Educators are also following the case closely. A hefty award for the plaintiff would be a major financial burden on the school -- and could hinder Malaysia's efforts to attract foreigners.
(Malaysia -- See You In Court: A series of civil suits suggests growing litigiousness ,By Murray Hiebert in Kuala Lumpur ,23 September 1999
Far Eastern Economic Review)

Next, in an decision clearly in favour of the establishment,The Bakun Dam matter-where Sri Ram held that "In particular he (James Foong) did not have sufficient regard for public interest. Additionally he did not consider the interests of justice from the point of view of both the appellants and respondents."
The appellants were Penan trying to defend their homes;the respondents the Governments of the Federation of Malaysia and the State of Sarawak.
( see )

Then, in a reversal against the establishment , this unseemly commentary on matters that were not put before the Court which resulted in a successful appeal against his decision:

The court held that the main and supplementary Appellate Court's decisions, written by Justices Datuk Gopal Sri Ram and Datuk Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, contained elements of real danger of bias.

The court, led by Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, also held that the appellant, Metramac, and its case, have been unfairly regarded with disfavour.

The quorum made the findings after considering the question of biasness in the Court of Appeal's judgment, in particular, the adverse remarks and findings against third parties made in the written grounds of judgment by Justice Sri Ram.

To the remarks and findings, the Federal Court expressed its regret that they were not only unnecessary, irrelevant and not supported by evidence, but the language used was unwarranted to say the least.

On Jan 12 last year, the Court of Appeal ordered Metramac, owner and operator of East West Link Expressway and Sungei Besi Expressway, to pay RM65 million to Fawziah Holdings as compensation for loss of advertising rights, including all proceeds to be received under future contracts.

In Sri Ram's written grounds of judgment, he, among others, commented that Tan Sri Halim Saad and his business partner, Anuar Othman, siphoned off RM32.5 million from Metramac and enjoyed the patronage of former Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin.

19 July 2007,Bernama Daily Malaysian News)

I suppose one should also ask: Can a man found to be biased in his judgement be ever suitable for promotion based on "merit" to the highest court in the land?

Sri Ram's "landmark" rulings: Some examples

After 15 years in the Court of Appeal, Datuk Gopal Sri Ram will be elevated to the Federal Court together with two judgesSri Ram, 65, has the distinction of being the first lawyer in private practice to be appointed straight to the Court of Appeal when it was set up in 1994. He never served as a judicial commissioner nor a High Court judge.

Occasionally, he has been invited to the Federal Court bench in the interest of justice and has written about 800 judgments.

Some of his landmark rulings are in the areas of public, contract and industrial law.(

The following are examples of this great mind's works:

a) Tommy Thomas & Ors v. MBf Capital Berhad and MBf Northern Securities Sdn Bhd
" was not necessary for a company to be in possession of cash in order to satisfy the court that it was in a position to pay the costs of an action brought by it in the event that it failed in its suit."

b)The Sababumi matter where Sri Ram seems to have declared huge sections of the Malaysian gaming industry invalid:-

c) The Bakun Dam matter-where Sri Ram held that "In particular he (James Foong) did not have sufficient regard for public interest. Additionally he did not consider the interests of justice from the point of view of both the appellants and respondents."
The appellants were Penan trying to defend their homes;the respondents the Governments of the Federation of Malaysia and the State of Sarawak.

Federal Court appointments: James Foong's appointment must worry any investor

So, James Foong has been made a justice of the Federal Court of Malaysia.

Bar Council president Ragunath Kesavan has told Bernama that the Malaysian Bar had given consultation and suggestion on the appointment of judges during meetings in the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC).

Ragunath said it was very important for the country to have a first class judiciary to attract foreign investors to invest in the country

Well, what does one make of James Foong's intervention on behalf of Public Bank?
(see my post at
Clearly ,any investor, foreign or local unfortunate enough to have a matter before this man needs to be mindful that their opponents are not friends of Foong. It does appear that he treasures (pun intended) these friendships over and above his duties. Then, who am I to say ; after all he has been rewarded for his somewhat peculiar perception of judicial independence.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Malaysian High Court decides that it can impose the right to legal representation, determine who represents whom

This seemingly unarguable right to counsel was first introduced in Common Law more 1495, during the reign of Henry VII,(when) the King signed a law which read, translated from ancient English into current vernacular:

After the said writ of writs be returned, the justices shall assign to the same poor person or persons, counsel learned by their discretions, which shall give their counsels nothing taking for the same, and in likewise the same justices shall appoint an attorney and attorneys for the same poor person and persons which shall do their duties without any rewards.

Readers will agree that since 1495 persons appearing before a court have had the right to determine who their legal representatives would be.
Even the Government of Malaysia has on occasion utilised counsel other than the Attorney-General.
However, that has not prevented this gem of a judgement from being handed down by the High Court of Malaysia:

'State legal adviser must represent Speaker' (updated)

IPOH: The High Court has ruled that Perak State Assembly Speaker V. Sivakumar must be represented by the state legal adviser in a suit brought against him by three independent assemblymen.

The ruling Thursday by Judicial Commissioner Ridwan Ibrahim would be seen as a blow to the Pakatan Rakyat alliance, whose lawyers have argued that having the state legal adviser representing the Speaker would be a clear conflict of interests.

The suit was filed by assemblymen Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi (Behrang), Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu (Changkat Jering) and Hee Yit Foong (Jelapang) against Sivakumar for declaring their seats vacant using their undated resignation letters.

All three had previously quit from their parties but maintain they had not vacated their seats. Their resignations led to the political crisis in Perak and to the state being taken over by Barisan Nasional after they had pledged their loyalty to the coalition.

They are being represented by Umno legal adviser Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun.

Ridwan had on Tuesday ruled that Sivakumar must be represented by the state legal adviser in a suit filed by Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abd Kadir.

The Speaker had objected because the state legal adviser had acted for Dr Zambry in a different case last week.

The High Court later set March 11 to hear the case of the three independents who are seeking a declaration that they are still elected representatives.

The suit against Sivakumar challenging his decision to suspend and bar Dr Zambry and his six executive council members from the State Assembly will be heard on March 23.

Time and time again Malaysia's judges prove that they preside over the best system of justice money can buy.