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Standpoints

The rule of law

The constitution makes no provisions for anyone being above the law, but some in authority behave as if it does.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad
2 minute read
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It is said that there are individuals who are above the law. Okay. Let us assume that there are such individuals. But these individuals cannot do things on their own. They need others to take the necessary action.

These others are not privileged to be above the law. If they carry out instructions that are against the law, they should be charged. It does not matter if they are government officials. There is nothing to say that government officials can do things that are against the law. They cannot.

Supposing they are instructed by an individual who is said to be above the law and the instruction is to commit a crime, like to steal or murder someone, they should refuse to do it. If they do it, then they will be committing a crime. And they should be charged with committing the crime, tried in a court of law and sentenced.

But I believe that there have been officials who carried out orders by a person who is said to be above the law, and the officials have not been charged with committing a crime.

This is wrong. If these individuals are treated as if they, too, are above the law, then no one is safe who may have offended a person who is said to be above the law.

Incidentally the Malaysian constitution or Malaysian law has no provisions for anyone being above the law. But we do know that those in authority behave as if there are such persons. Certain actions taken by persons in authority indicate that they subscribe to the idea that there are individuals who are above the law and that if they carry out their instructions, it is not illegal.

We need to have this perception clarified. We have to know who they are and what laws they are said to be above. In the first place, are there individuals who are above the law? If there are, what is the limit of their privilege? Is it total, meaning they are free to commit even murder or robbery? Or is it limited? If it is limited, what is the limit?

If they commit the action through another individual who is not above the law, is he or she immune to the law as is the person who instructed them?

We need to be clear about these things. The attorney-general needs to explain the content of this law, which is not written but is apparently subscribed to by those in authority.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad is the former prime minister of Malaysia.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.