KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 10 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has once again dismissed claims that he had interfered with the judiciary during his first term as prime minister.
He instead accused others of tampering with the judicial system, including those who came after him, Free Malaysia Today wrote.
Despite these allegations still lingering to date, Dr Mahathir said the courts had in the past ruled against him in several cases, one which involved the legitimacy of Umno which was tried at the High Court and declared illegal in 1988.
The outcome was a result of a suit filed by 11 Umno members in 1987, where they sought a declaration that the party elections earlier that year were unconstitutional and illegal.
The judge, Justice Tan Sri Harun Hashim, had in his ruling decided that Umno was an illegal party on the basis of what Dr Mahathir claimed was “some little wrongdoing in some tiny branches”.
However, Dr Mahathir said Harun, who could have taken action solely on the few branches, instead chose to condemn the entire party.
“[The judgement] shows the judiciary was not for me and many of the judgements made during my time were against me”.
“I did nothing. In fact Harun, after declaring that Umno was illegal, was promoted. So I didn’t interfere with the judiciary,” Dr Mahathir said.
Dr Mahathir said accusations of his interference started after the removal of Tun Mohamed Salleh Abas as Lord President of the Supreme Court in 1988, which subsequently led to the removal of five Supreme Court judges (three were later reinstated).
Insisting that he had played no part in that crisis, Dr Mahathir said former attorney general Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman has already since clarified the matter.
“[But] Abu Talib refused to point out that it was the Yang di-Pertuan Agong who wanted Salleh removed,” he said.
At the time, Dr Mahathir recalled informing the King that to remove Salleh, a tribunal had to be set up, and the King had agreed to it.
“So, it was not initiated by me. I never interfered with the judiciary,” he said.
He added that as prime minister, he merely submitted the list of names of judges to be promoted or new ones to be appointed, to the King, and that he never changed “anything or any name” on the list.
Instead he said the judiciary had been “tampered with” by others, citing a decision by Datuk Seri Najib Razak to extend the retirement age of judges beyond 66.
“He retained two of the judges obviously because these people favoured him. As for me, I have always had verdicts go against me.”