Assalaamu’alaikum warahmatullaahi wabarakaatuh.
Yang Arif Dato’ Abdul Hamid bin Haji Mohamad,
Federal Court Judge and Datin,
Yang Arif Dato’ Gopal Sri Ram,
Court of Appeal Judge,
Yang Arif Dato’ Haji Abdul Malik Ishak,
High Court Judge dan Datin,
Yang Arif Dato’ T. Selvathiranathan,
High Court Judge and Datin,
Yang Berbahagia Haji Khutubul Zaman Bukhari,
President Bar Council Malaysia and wife,
Associate Professor Dr. Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mohamad, Dean, Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliah of Laws (AIKOL),
Dr. Haji Azmi Hj. Harun, Director Law Center and Program Advisor,
Dr. Mahamad Ariffin, Deputy Dean, Academic Affairs
Brother Mohamad Khairil Abidin, Director of the Program,
Members of the Academic and Administrative Staff of the University,
Potential Graduates, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I have always looked forward to this LAW GRADUATES DINNER.
Not because it is free, but because it gives me a chance to congratulate all of you, in advance, before my convocation speech, for your future success in graduating from our great university.
If only you know how much is this university held in esteem, by delegates to the 10th conference of the OIC, you will understand the feeling of our many staff who are involved in making the OIC conference a success, of wanting the delegates to ask them as to where they come from.
While in the past people in Gombak would stress on their address being in Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur resident of Gombak would only be too pleased now, to say that their neighbor is IIUM.
You will be products of IIUM. While at the moment you can be proud of being from this university, we hope that when you leave the university it can be proud of you, and the university will become more famous because of you.
Whether you become practicing lawyers or using your legal knowledge and discipline, in executive positions, in the private or public sector, you must uphold the independence of the judiciary.
In a society where people are more attached to friends than to principles, it takes great courage to make unpopular decisions.
As a politician, occupying various executive positions in the government, for about a quarter of a century, I have often been at the bitter end of judicial decisions.
But I can tell you this. Much as I suffered because of the results of those decisions I have great respects for the judges.
Today, the 13th October, 2003 is my fortieth anniversary as a member of UMNO, as I joined the party on 13th October, 1963.
Tonight I pay tribute to Allahyarham Tan Sri Harun Hashim, our beloved Professor, the judge who declared UMNO illegal when I was UMNO’s Secretary General.
I had a heart attack as a result of his decision, but it was not fatal. His recent heart attack was fatal, but I share the pain which he endured as I have undergone the same experience.
In retrospective Tan Sri Hashim’s decision, which on the surface appears to be against UMNO, was actually in the best interest of the country.
Had he decided not to declare UMNO illegal, and directed a replay of the UMNO General Assembly, without the errant UMNO branches, Dato’ Seri Dr. Mahathir, I calculated, would have lost to his challenger, and the Muslim world would have been deprived of a great leader.
I was the Deputy Home Minister when Bo Tak Chin, beat up the warden in Pudu Prison, while waiting for his turn at the gallows.
At that time, when Allahyarham Tun Hussein Onn was the Prime Minister, a Deputy Minister was automatically the Acting Minister when the Minister was on leave. As Acting Minister I visited the prison after the Bo Tak Chin incident.
I was alarmed to learn of so many of those who were sentenced to death, were still around, for many years, even after the appeal for pardon from the Yang Di Pertuan Agong were turned down.
I was made to understand by the Director of Prisons that the prison is supposed to keep a minimum of five ropes for emergencies. That is exactly the number of ropes available for hanging, at that time.
They therefore could not use them until the incident like the one caused by Bo Tak Chin happened.
Boh Tak Chin incidentally is not the inmate’s real name, it was merely a description of him which means ‘ Jobless Chinese ‘ as Bo means ‘ No ‘, Tak means ‘ Job ‘ and Chin is ‘ Chinese ‘ – a No Job Chinese.
When I met Bo Tak Chin he asked me ,’ Fasal apa kerajaan belum gantung saya. Kerajaan kena gantung saya, lepas itu bakar mayat saya dan habuk mayat saya kerajaan boleh buang dalam parit di merata tempat, fasal saya orang jahat. ‘
I asked the accompanying warden as to why he was not hanged as he had waited for so long. I was informed that Bo Tak Chin was just one of the inmates and that there was no urgent requirement to execute him as there was no emergency situation which permits the prison to use the spare ropes.
After the incident I left for Britain on a visit to Bath Prison and Drugs Rehabilitation Center. I was informed that there was no possibility of buying ropes that were traditionally used for hanging in the Commonwealth of Nations. The rope weaver does not believe any more in capital punishment as a deterrent of crimes. It did not work as crime was on the increase despite the capital punishment.
I returned to Kuala Lumpur and had another visit to Pudu Prison. I had another dialogue with Bo Tak Chin. I told him that he could not be hanged yet as I could not buy the ropes for hanging on my visit to Britain, and therefore could not replenish the stock of ropes in hand.
Bo Tak Chin asked me as to what was so special about the rope that the prison could not use other ropes for hanging. To this the accompanying warden replied that the rope had a velvet cover which reduces the pain when it strangled the prisoner.
To this explanation Bo Tak Chin retorted, ‘ How do you know of the pain as no one who had been hanged had returned to life to talk of the degree of pain.’
The prison then bought the ropes used in Japan for hanging the criminals.
About 35 inmates were then waiting for the ministerial directives, for them to be hanged around that time. I made it a point to meet some of the inmates, in the death chamber, before their executions.
Not many people have a chance to go through this experience.
When I asked those inmates who have murdered and raped their victims of the possibility of their having any moment, that they went through, which have brought regrets to their hearts, for what they have done, they replied ‘ yes ‘.
Independent of one another their positive answers were the same, summarily i.e. ‘ I was shocked when the judge, in his judgment, vividly described what I had done and how I did it, and they were truly as I did while I thought nobody would know, but the judge knew.’
This is where justice lies, when the convicted person, though not confessing, knows the truth of what he is convicted for.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the beauty of your profession. Someone, somewhere, must perpetually elucidate the truth.
Whether in your future fight against corruption, malpractices or mismanagement you must stick together irrespective of your political inclinations.
Being from an Islamic University you must strive to be more Islamic than partisan. Only than can Muslims be united. What is the difference between being more Islamic or more partisan? Islam says that all Muslims are brothers and sisters. A political party insists on deposing its rivals from their seats.
If one puts Islam above partisan politics, than whatever be the rivalry, between political parties, the brotherhood and sisterhood in the defense of Muslim’s rights and justice, should be maintained.
As future alumni of IIUM you can do this.
As it is Muslims of the world are brought together not by the call of Islam. Numerous Muslim organizations in Britain could not unite but by the common hatred for Salman Rushdie.
Madeleine Albright suggested that Israel should recognize Palestine so that the Arabs would have not even one reason to unite. She said that the present unity, in the Muslims’ hatred for Israel, is the only reason that Muslims have, to gather in meetings and conferences to condemn Israel and Zionism.
Should Palestine be recognized than Muslim have no more reason to unite. It is Israel, therefore, that unite us.
Recently, Muslims were united in condemning US and Britain for their war against Iraq. Muslims therefore became united by the work of George Bush and Tony Blair.
Graduates of IIUM have this great responsibility of venturing into Jihad for the Unity of the Muslim Ummah.
Tomorrow, at the meeting of OIC ministers, the concept paper of IIUM’s International Institute for Muslim Unity will be tabled for inclusion in the resolution of the Head of States’ subsequent meeting.
Let us play to Allah s.w.t. that everything will go smoothly and the IIMU will be confirmed as an OIC recognized institution.
Once this institute is accepted I will come back to you for help.
Wabillahi taufik assalaa mu’alaikum.