November 28th, 2011 by Hafiz Noor Shams
You and I can sit at a cafe and argue whether former US President George Bush and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair are guilty of war crimes. We can pass our verdict but we must be out of our minds to think that the verdict is as legitimate as that of a proper court of law. You and I can organize a mock hearing and have all resemblance of a court of law much like the Model United Nations to the actual United Nations, but it is madness to think the make-believe court has any authority. Its ruling is irrelevant and unexecutable.
The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal and its organizer the Perdana Global Peace Foundation think otherwise.
They set up a court and passed rulings, pretending such action carry any weight. They actually take their business very seriously. The tribunal has everything from real judges to professors and complete with the defense team, which only the heaven knows what locus standi the team has to represent the two former world leaders. What makes the whole show all the more surreal is the exposure local mainstream media and others grant to the theatric.
Perhaps, this is an attempt of vigilantism. Frustrated at the international system, theirs is an effort at setting up a rival avenue for justice.
Vigilantism has its points and if the vigilante court commands influence in the society, it may be of use. In the anarchic Somalia, vigilante Islamic courts mushroomed to provide order and quickly became one of the pillars of the Somalian society. The locals welcomed the authority. There was real value to it.
But the vigilantism of Perdana’s Kuala Lumpur War Tribunal will not get the legitimacy of those in the Horn of Africa. And quite likely, any execution may in fact contravene actual laws.
Most sensible reports mindfully utilized the word symbolic or its synonyms as an adjective describing the Tribunal. Maybe, by emphasizing its symbolism and downplaying the pretension, the Tribunal can gain some gravitas.
But even as a symbol however, the Kuala Lumpur War Tribunal does not inspire much confidence. The Tribunal was created by the Perdana Global Peace Foundation whose chairman is the former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed. He is, of course, the paragon of an independent, credible judiciary. He has the all the credibility in the world to set up the Tribunal. His contributions to the Malaysian judiciary are unforgettable.
Let us pretend that the Tribunal was of consequence. Such pretension will show that if it was, then it would be a kangaroo court. The Foundation already holds prejudicial views against Bush and Blair. And the Foundation is the one that set up the tribunal. Does any one of us really expect anything more than a kangaroo court?
Who really takes the Tribunal seriously?
It is just another farce among farces we encounter everyday.