RM10.5 mil. On the night of April 17, at a dinner hosted by the Bar Council and sponsored by the PM's Department, the PM promised to pay compensation to the judges "wronged" during the 1988 judiciary crisis. Zaid Ibrahim, the short-lived de facto Law Minister, and the Bar Council had hoped that the compensation would start what they saw as judicial reforms. Politically, someone was hoping that these reforms would save Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's job.
The judges involved had their reservations about the compensation But Zaid promised Salleh Abas and the former judges that the Government would not make public the amount of compensation to be paid to them. Only a handful of people had known exactly how much was paid to whom. Apart from Zaid and the judges themselves, they were the PM, the Minister of Finance ll, and someone from the Bar Council.
Today, the secret is out. Nazri Aziz, who got his old job back after Zaid resigned, told the Dewan Rakyat today that RM10.5 million was paid out to the judges. Salleh Abas, the former Lord President, received the highest amount - RM5 million. Supreme Court judges the late Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawan Teh and George Edward Seah Kim Seng got RM2mil each while Tan Sri Wan Hamzah Mohd Salleh, Tan Sri Azmi Kamaruddin and the late Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdolcadeer were paid RM500,000 each.
Today's disclosure was made in the name of accountability, or so Nazri said.
But what about Zaid's promise of confidentiality, a promise he made in his capacity as a Minister of this government? Today that promise was broken. I am sure the former judges are hurt and embarrassed, so shouldn't someone apologize to them and their families for breaking the promise.
p.s. YB Nazri, I know dinner for 500 ain't that much but if I may ask, in the name of accountability, how much did it cost to organize the dinner that night? And who took the tab, the Government or the Bar Council?