SUING IN COURT
by Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad
1. Malaysian politics of today is frequently punctuated with court actions. In particular there are now a lot of litigation cases. And the amounts sued for invariably run into millions of Ringgit.
2. Despite the efforts of the learned judges there are still huge backlogs of cases of all kinds, civil and criminal, which probably will never be heard, much less adjudged. This is because the hearings take such a long time that the parties to the cases would have forgotten the facts or they would have died.
3. And, as they say, “justice delayed is justice denied”.
4. The litigations by politicians may be justified. But politicians must accept that as politicians they would be bad-mouthed by their opponents. It is up to them to counter the allegations made. They should not always be suing in court.
5. For Muslims they should be willing to swear properly that there is no truth to the allegations.
6. Often the litigation is intended to shut the mouths of their opponents. In Malaysia when a case is being heard in a court, it becomes sub-judice and comments outside can constitute “contempt of court”. By suing the matter becomes sub-judice and the opponents’ mouths would be shut. Through repeated appeals the case can be prolonged and the defendants’ mouths would remain shut to the advantage of the litigant for years.
7. For the person sued, much money would have to be spent on lawyers. For years he would be assailed with anxiety that he might be found guilty and if he is unable to pay he may be bankrupted.
8. Yet when the defendant wins, the litigant may need to pay cost only, which the court will fix. Often the amount would be a minute fraction of the amount he is sued for.
9. Because the cost to the litigant is so very little, the tendency is to sue for millions. This is grossly unfair to the defendants. If the law is intended to promote justice then the litigant should also suffer from the same anxieties for the length of time of the hearing and if his allegation is baseless he should pay his victim the same amount he sued for.
10. Then there would be justice and frivolous cases would not be brought before the courts. The judges would then have time for their other cases.
11. Incidentally I was sued for 100 million Ringgit. When after almost five years I won, I was awarded cost at 70 thousand Ringgit, which of course go to my lawyers.