Sunday, February 28, 2021

Salleh Abas, man at the centre of 1988 tussle between judiciary and executive, dies at 91

Salleh was dismissed as lord president after criticising what he said was then-prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad's meddling in the judiciary.

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Former lord president Salleh Abas, who was at the centre of a constitutional crisis that saw him controversially dismissed from his post, died early this morning after he was tested positive for Covid-19.

Salleh, who was 91, passed away at Hospital Sultanah Raja Nurzahirah in Kuala Terengganu.

“May Allah forgive him and place him amongst the righteous. May Allah reward him with Jannatul Firdaus,” said a WhatsApp message from his family.

Salleh took over as lord president from the late Sultan Azlan Shah in 1984, after the latter quit the post to ascend the Perak throne.

His dismissal followed his criticism of what he said was Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s meddling in the judiciary by coming up with amendments to curtail its powers.

It was thought that Mahathir was unhappy with the judiciary over the court’s ruling banning Umno, following a suit brought by supporters of Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah who had narrowly lost the Umno presidency to Mahathir a year earlier.

In 1988, Salleh was brought before a tribunal convened by Mahathir to try him for misconduct, which ultimately removed him as lord president, setting off a string of international condemnation.

Salleh returned to the public eye years later when he contested in the 1995 general election as a candidate for Semangat 46 in Lembah Pantai, but lost. In 1999, he stood again for election, this time for the state seat of Jertih, Terengganu on a PAS ticket, and won.

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