By Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on April 1, 2010 4:09 PM
1. One of the principles in law which is believed to ensure that justice is done is that disputes must be settled by a third party.
2. No one should be the prosecutor, the judge and the executioner. In fact the aggrieved party should never be the prosecutor and the judge. Obviously the aggrieved party would be biased in favour of himself.
3. Matthias Chang is now in jail. His crime, if we can call it a crime, is that of allegedly showing contempt of court i.e. not showing the right respect of the judge. Because the judge feels he or she has not been shown respect, then the judge has punished him by sentencing him to a fine or jail. Matthias has refused to pay the fine because it would amount to admission of guilt.
4. It would seem that what was regarded as contempt on the part of the court was Matthias' expression of lack of confidence in the judge who for some reason seemed to Matthias to be biased. Matthias had said he was going to appeal to a higher court over the behaviour of the judge towards him and his lawyers.
5. Is a person, feeling aggrieved over his treatment by a judge not allowed to say that he is not happy with the judge and wishes to appeal to a higher authority?
6. Is an aggrieved person not allowed to claim that a judge is biased? In several recent cases an accused person has demanded that the judge recuse himself for being biased. Indeed we hear of an accused person demanding that the prosecutors be changed because of allegedly being bias. And in fact the persons concerned, who were only doing the work they had officially been tasked with, were not allowed to carry out their usual work.
7. I write this with trepidation because I too can be charged with contempt. But I feel there is a miscarriage of justice here, even if the law seems to uphold the process.
8. If a judge feels that a litigant or an accused person has been in contempt of his court, then the judge should get a third party, and another court to determine whether indeed there is a case for contempt or not and to determine the punishment.