Federal Court judge Augustine Paul, who passed away yesterday, will be remembered by many Malaysians for his role in the Anwar trial during the reformasi era.
His frequent use of the word “irrelevant” during the Anwar corruption trial whenever Anwar’s defence counsel wanted to raise what they felt was pertinent evidence soon resulted in the word becoming something of a sarcastic buzz-word in Malaysia.
Paul’s meteoric rise through the judicial ranks, immediately before and after that trial, raised eyebrows.
One of his last major decisions was in the case of Kampung Buah Pala, where some 300 residents were facing eviction and the demolition of their ancestral village. On 24 June 2009, Federal Court judges Paul, Hashim Yusoff and Mohd Ghazali Mohd Yusoff dashed the villagers’ hopes by unanimously rejecting their application for leave to appeal against a Court of Appeal decision that had overturned a landmark High Court verdict in their favour.
Augustine Paul sealed the villagers’ fate when he dismissed their leave application after holding that the issue of locus standi (legal standing) of the residents on the land had not been adequately addressed.
It was a decision that effectively killed off the villagers’ legal challenge and spelt the death knell for their historical settlement.
Three months later, by mid-September 2009, the developer’s demolition team had smashed the village to rubble amidst traumatic scenes among the villagers.
And another three months later, on 2 January 2010, Paul passed away – about a decade after delivering his 394-page guilty verdict and six-year jail sentence on Anwar.
Paul’s funeral will be held at an Anglican church, St Peter’s, in KL this afternoon. Brought up in Batu Gajah, he had previously attended Sunday Masses at a Catholic church, St Francis Xavier’s, in PJ.