Injustice and the Rule of Law: The scope of the challenge

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In the last few months, there have been some interesting global developments. According to Dr Leong Ng , the common thread is the departure from the written and unwritten international standards of the rule of law. 

Part 1

 “Be you never so high, the law is above you”       

~ Lord Denning 1977

THE LAST several months have seen some interesting developments globally.

First, at home, the circumstances surrounding the failure of the intended Operation Fortitude speaks louder than words. IA’s Tess Lawrence piece refers as does a report of strong arm tactics in a comment by Janelle Fawkes. Another unrelated farce occurs in Melbourne, reported on 1 Sept 2015.

Secondly, what appears to be a flaw in the judicial process on Australian journalist Peter Greste, tried in absentia, in Cairo has recently evoked international concern.

In the background are the politically motivated allegedly “unlawful” executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in Java.

Thirdly, the 7-Eleven franchises debacle of employing underpaid workers etc continues to surface.

Fourthly, the mob justice of another nation shocks  sisters to be raped as punishment.

Finally, continuing revelations of an entrenched culture of bullying and harassment rocked the nation at the beginning of the year along with emerging evidence of ecclesiastical impropriety, formally elicited via a Royal Commission.

And, for a long time, we have had the lawlessness of many other actions by the regulator of healthcare practice by the Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Agency (AHPRA), a four year old, conceived hastily by the Federal Government after the debacles involving Doctors Reeves, Patel and Peters.

What is the common thread here? In my view, it is the departure from the written (UN Covenants) and unwritten international standards (inherited colonial) of the rule of law.

In 2006, the late Lord Bingham, QC, former Master of the Rolls, in his public 6th Sir David Williams lecture at Cambridge, referred to the immense importance of this subject in the modern age, citing another public lecture at the London School of Economics by the then Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, QC.

Whilst this piece does not examine what constitutes the “rule of law” it does aim to explore what the common person in the street would ordinarily view as injustice something first enshrined, in the Western world, in the Magna Carta. However, it is thought that principles even predated the English language version of the Bible.

Lord Bingham also stated that it is not difficult to “depart from the rule of law” — and cites Professor Joseph Raz expounding that the tendency to use it as a “shorthand description of the positive aspects of any given political system”. Prof Raz added:

“A non-democratic legal system, based on the denial of human rights, on extensive poverty… The law may …institute slavery without violating the rule of law.”    


Other views of its use include claims of is “abuse” in political rhetoric including that in the case of Bush v Gore. Yet others simply claim its “elusiveness”. But that does not mean we can choose to ignore it.

Does the obverse help to highlight the negative aspects of another political system?

What these stated above events do have in common is the wide publicity and thus the public perception of their seriousness and the inner distress they elicit.

In practical every day terms, departure from the rule of law may be easily appreciated by the masses and quickly acted upon for example by the recent rapid public response to the Government’s intended actions of Operation Fortitude.

Does this mean that the public, in its actions, had departed from the “rule of law” by taking such in its own hands?

It appears not so, as evidenced by the outpouring of damage control strategies by various individuals including the ABF Commissioner, the prime minister and also the immigration minister.

I would also say not because of the specific Constitutional right given to the public to peacefully protest, as also enshrined in the United Nations Human Rights Charter, with various covenants signed by Australia. Public discontent in Victoria illustrated this in Melbourne as did that in my home country of Malaysia of the Bersih movement in KL (though Malaysia had never signed the relevant part of the United Nations instrument).

A similar peaceful dissent recently happened in Barcelona, Spain where activist Ada Colau was democratically elected Mayor.

The intellectual and populist unrest led by the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong also demonstrate the same, though with more physical rigour.

Human beings everywhere would appear to possess an inherent ability to sense and act on the unfairness inflicted on their rights and on the common law.

In history, the French revolution may be considered another example despite an enduring period of oppression.


Departures from the rule of law are occurring increasingly on a global basis. Australia is not excluded and the public should be very concerned about the development of an oligarchic anarchy form of Government. One is particularly concerned with insidious and subtle departures.

Disclosure: Dr Leong Ng, FRCP Edin, has been an enduring victim of frivolous attacks and bullying by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians via the NSW Medical Board. Because of this, he set aside his application for the FRACP but still successfully practises as a consultant physician, as recognised by Medicare and other entities. He is a founder member and sits in the committee of the newly formed Health Professionals Australia Reform Association (HPARA).

Part Two of this article (to be published) will highlight the insidious and flagrant departures from the rule of law which affects every Australian that of alleged malregulation of health practitioners by AHPRA and the government’s inaction to realistic reforms. This is a matter that has received little public awareness apart from several IA publications. The goal here is to stimulate populist discussion to stimulate legal reform. 

If you would like to learn more about HPARA please email hparacommittee@gmail.com or call 0499 399 081.

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