Rule of law should apply to people in power too, says Anwar

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim.

PETALING JAYA: PKR president Anwar Ibrahim today spoke up on the government’s rule of law, stating he is often asked if Putrajaya is missing the woods for the trees, or wilfully turning a blind eye to certain stark realities confronting the people.

“If the cornerstone of the rule of law means that no person should be above the law, aren’t we being subjected to double standards reminiscent of the proclamation in George Orwell’s Animal Farm that ‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others’?

“Do we listen in earnest to the charge that while the powers that proclaim the equality of citizens also give power and privileges to a small elite?” he said in his speech at an international constitutional law conference organised by the Law Association for Asia and the Pacific (Lawasia).

He further said the rule of law must apply to those in positions of power and they should be held accountable if there is any suggestion of unauthorised action by those in power.

He said no one was exempted from the law and this principle must be safeguarded.

“What is good for the goose must also be good for the gander,” he said, further adding that the most important aspect of the rule of law is the fundamental liberties and rights of the citizens are formulated and protected by the law, rather than by abstract constitutional declarations.

He said the rule of law has little meaning to those with empty stomachs or children with poor access to good schools.

Anwar, the head of the Parliamentary Caucus on Reform and Governance, called for greater introspection as there still remains a litany of unfulfilled promises.

He said credit should be given to PH for introducing reforms but he asked whether the fight against corruption had been pursued without fear or favour.

“Quick fixes are usually good for the short term but to redress the wrongs committed over decades, some latitude must be given to ensure that we do not have band-aid remedies but long-term solutions,” he added.

Institutional reforms must also entail structuring the economy by ensuring robust growth, with fairer and equitable distribution.

“By this, I don’t mean unfettered free market economics or capitalism with a vengeance. Not at all. But through freedom of opportunity, including freedom to access credit as well as the economic protection from abject poverty,” the Port Dickson MP said.