Press Statement
Chief Registrar’s explanation on BTN courses raises more questions – Judges were also made to attend discussion on Najib’s TN50 programme on eve of elections
2 August 2018

We refer to the statement issued yesterday by the office of Chief Registrar of the Federal Court responding to the criticism by Lawyers for Liberty that Judges and judicial officers had been indoctrinated through BTN courses.

Firstly, the Chief Registrar’s office claims that BTN was brought in to organise the courses to ‘save costs’.

This is a highly improbable and perplexing reason.

Surely there are better ways to ‘save costs’, rather than letting the racist and politically controversial BTN to organise the courses?

Further, the BTN is a unit under the PM’s department.

It is a flagrant breach of the doctrine of separation of powers, to force judges to attend courses organised by a unit of the executive such as the BTN. Is it logical to undermine the doctrine of separation of powers simply in order to ‘save costs’?

The executive has no business to give any lectures to judges, who must be seen to be completely independent.

Secondly, the Chief Registrar’s office claims that the timing of the BTN courses on the eve of GE14 was just a ‘coincidence’.

This seems far-fetched, considering that 3 separate BTN programmes were held back to back in KL, Selangor and Kedah within a period of just 3 weeks in the run-up to GE14. Is that just a coincidence?

We are now also able to reveal that on 27 February 2018, just weeks prior to the 3 BTN courses, the Chief Registrar’s office also ordered judges, deputy registrars and judicial officers to attend a ‘special discussion’ on Najib Razak’s TN50 ( Transformasi Nasional 2050) programme. Attendance was compulsory.

TN50 has been widely criticised as a political gimmick of Najib and the BN; it is thus an overtly political activity. It also has nothing whatsoever to do with enhancing judicial or professional skills.

Why did the Judicial Capacity Training Division of the Chief Registrar’s office organise such a programme?

Thirdly, the Chief Registrar’s office claims that there was no political element or indoctrination in the BTN courses. But this is contradicted by persons who attended the courses who say that the contents of the programmes were political and pro-BN.

The Chief Registrar must now release the full contents and audio recording of the BTN programmes to back up the claim that it is not political.

The response yesterday by the Chief Registrar’s office has merely created more disturbing questions, and produced no satisfactory answers.

We reiterate our call that an independent panel of inquiry be appointed to investigate the systematic undermining of judicial independence and to make the necessary recommendations for action.

Released by:
N Surendran
Adviser
Lawyers for Liberty