Friday, September 27, 2013

Bersih tribunal a publicity stunt? Tell that to Tun M, says lawyer - ( M4L4YS14 )

SUBANG JAYA, Sept 27 — Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s International War Crimes Tribunal would have to be seen as a publicity stunt too if the Attorney-General’s (A-G) opinion of the Bersih People’s Tribunal on the 13th General Election holds true, said a senior lawyer.

Prof Gurdial Singh Nijar, who is lead counsel in the People’s Tribunal, said it would be hard to see it any other way if they were to go by A-G Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail’s statement that the Bersih initiative was nothing more than a “form of publicity”.

“Is he also calling the War Tribunal supported by Tun Dr Mahathir a publicity stunt?” he told the five-member panel presiding over the People’s Tribunal, aiming the question at Abdul Gani.

Gurdial was referring to the 2011 Kuala Lumpur International War Crimes Tribunal – where he acted as chief prosecutor – which found former United States’ President George W. Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair guilty of waging an illegal war in Iraq.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had written in his blog that governments have to take not of tribunals started by civil society. — Picture by Choo Choy MayThe War Crimes Tribunal was initiated by Dr Mahathir, who had at the time wrote in his blog that governments have no choice but to recognise and take serious note of tribunals started by civil society.

Last week, Abdul Gani panned the People’s Tribunal as a mere publicity stunt that has no legal grounds to make an impact.

He was quoted in a report on Astro Awani’s website as saying that the presence of foreign representatives on the tribunal’s panel was “meddling” into Malaysia’s affairs and was “not good”.

Gurdial, who is also law professor at Universiti Malaya, said today that the A-G’s recent statement was a “sad pronouncement” of the latter’s alleged ignorance on the role played by such tribunals.

“For the highest legal advisor to the government to say this, he does his own office a disservice,” he said.

Gurdial, who was presenting the tribunal legal team’s final submissions, spent nearly six hours raising an exhaustive list of evidence and arguments that point to the many issues they believe are plaguing the country’s electoral system.

He drew numerous examples of alleged electoral misconduct and irregularities, drawn from the testimony of the 51 witnesses who came forward last September 18-22 and 78 statutory declarations supporting such claims.

The tribunal is now adjourned and will reconvene after three months when the panel, lead by former United Nations special representative and constitutional law expert Yash Pal Ghai, is expected to present its findings and recommendations in a report.