1. I read the New Straits Times article on contempt of court under the heading “Respect Must Be Earned” with a degree of wonderment.
2. In Malaysia no one dares to criticise the courts for fear of being charged with contempt. But in many of the so-called advanced countries the courts are criticised very often. The critics seem not to be afraid of being charged with contempt.
3. In the article, which is an extract of a lecture by Lord David Pannick, a practising barrister in Britain, he said; “If confidence in the judiciary is so low that statements by critics would resonate with the public, such confidence is not going to be restored by a criminal prosecution in which judges find the comments scandalous or in which the defendant apologises.”
4. It is a cardinal principle of justice that the victim should not be the judge as well. In contempt cases, it seems that this principle is ignored. The very judge who is scandalised hears the case and passes the sentence.
5. I think we still need the contempt of court law so that irresponsible people would not make casual criticisms of judges. But the judge hearing the case should not be the one who is scandalised. Then there would be justice.