Why Faekah should resign

Posted on July 5, 2012

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In 20 years of legal practise, I can recall 2 instances when I applied to recuse presiding judges.

The first, in 1996, involved a High Court judge.

The second instance, in 2007, a coram of 3 Court of Appeal judges.

In both instances, the concern was the real risk of bias.

Not actual bias, but the real risk.

I stand to be corrected by legal practitioners, but in most applications of this nature, the foundation is not actual bias, but the risk that it will be perceived by the public at large that the actions of the  person concerned were motivated by bias.

Justice, as is said, must not only be done, but be manifestly seen to be done.

Else, public confidence in the decision-making process will erode.

Faekah now finds herself in a similar situation.

She had sent out a number of letters recommending law firms to undertake legal work for Selangor state-owned Permodalan Negeri Selangor Bhd.

Her niece is a partner in one of those law firms.

Was she in a ‘conflict of interest’ situation vis-a-vis her niece’s law firm when she issued that letter?

Arguably, yes.

Might she have been biased when she included her niece’s law firm for recommendation for legal work from the state-owned company?

It could well be perceived that way.

And, in the final analysis, whether she should relinquish her post should not turn on the question whether there was in fact bias, but whether there is reasonable  ground for the public to perceive bias in the decision-making process.

It may well be that when she issued the letter, no thought entered her mind that she ought not to be signing the letter in respect of her niece’s firm.

If so, then, respectfully, this was a lapse of good judgment on her part that now has thrust her boss, the MB, into a controversy not of his own making.

Malaysiakini reports that Khalid has come to Faekah’s defence.

Frankly, though, his argument that “whether or not the letter can be regarded as a support letter is still another issue” is, to my mind, rather lame.

The contents of that letter, especially the last sentence, speaks for itself.

Now, it seems, arising from her lapse of judgment, if indeed that is what it was, Khalid has been made the subject of show cause proceedings by PKR. Malaysiakini has the story HERE.

Faekah ought to do the decent thing.

Posted in: Digressions