The revelation by Minister Nazri Aziz of the quantum of the payment made by the Government to the group of ex-Judges headed by Tun Salleh Abas was, according to Ahirudin Attan (aka Rocky Bru, see here), a “break of promise” by the Government.

Nazri on the other hand says it was done for accountability purposes.

Whatever the reason, it shows that the Cabinet cannot get their act together. Surely this kind of important decision (i.e. to make the quantum paid known publicly or not) would have been properly minuted by the Cabinet Secretariat …… unless this decision was over-turned subsequently.

Judging from the reaction of Tun Salleh’s ally, Rocky Ahirudin, “the judges are hurt and embarrassed…. and that ….  “someone should apologise to them (judges) and their families for breaking the promise.”

One’s first reaction is why did the government recant on its promise? Second, why are the judges hurt and embarassed?

According to Malaysiakini report (6Nov), Nazri came under fire from opposition MPs for saying he did not know the amount paid. So it appears that he subsequently enquired about the amount paid and made it public …. in the name of transparency and accountability. So that covers the first question …. at first glance, at least.

Second, why are the judges hurt and embarassed? Okay, so they were receiving pensions since the termination of their services in 1988. But this recent payment, according to Nazri, was “goodwill ex-gratia” in nature. Mahathir waded into the matter today (click here) by saying that the judges were in effect sacked and that the pensions they received were “compassionate” in nature …. and that Salleh has been receiving two other pensions!

Things are now getting more interesting and to appreciate the bigger picture, let’s recap the quantums involved …… RM10.5m …. of which RM5m went to Salleh, RM2m each to Wan Suleiman and George Seah and RM0.5m each to the remaining 3 judges.

So what’s the gripe behind this brouhaha?

Answer: Are the ex-gratia payments totalling RM10.5m an OVERKILL – when considering that these judges are already receiving monthly pensions ranging from RM4,800 to RM6,500 …… especially when one considers Salleh Abas receiving the sum of RM5m ….. and that this money is effectively coming from the Rakyat?

Nazri goes one step further by claiming the Cabinet was not involved in determining the quantum of RM10.5m ….. “As for the question of the quantum of payment, that was done by the relevant department,” …… ( i.e. Zaid Ibrahim).

Mahathir came in with the second blow when asked if he was shocked by the amount paid out to Salleh, he replied, “This you must ask the ex-de facto law minister (i.e. Zaid Ibrahim). I think he has certain values that we don’t understand and he wanted to please the Opposition and the Bar Council” He rubs it in further by suggesting that payment should now be considered for Datuk Dr Abdul Aziz Muhammad who was recently acquitted for CBT and cheating involving RM9m (see here).

So there you have it ……….. it’s bashing up time for Zaid Ibrahim (for placating the Opposition/NGOs and questioning the “Ketuanan Melayu” contract) AND Salleh Abas (for accepting what is perceived to be an exhorbitant sum of the Rakyat’s money to spend in his twilight years, challenging BN in the elections in Lembah Pantai and winning a state seat in Terengganu in 1999)!

Maybe that’s why Rocky “succumbed” to the ploy by saying that the judges are “hurt and embarrassed” by the revelation!

Maybe it’s also time for Zaid Ibrahim to respond to this typical Mahathirism method of running people to the ground!

By the way, doing a simple averaging over the 20 years since his sacking in 1988, the quantum paid to Salleh works out to RM250,000 per year or RM20,800 per month, a measly sum for someone who is still perceived to be the last Malaysian Chief Justice (Lord President then) who was truly independent and paid the price for it! Truly measly when compared to the monies received by the politicians and their business cronies!

Should our attention be diverted by these issues?

Latest: Zaid Ibrahim is calling for a Press Conference to respond to the Mahathirist attacks on him! See here


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