Restore Public Trust in the Judicial and Legal Institutions
C4- Malaysiakini published a simple interactive piece on the “VK Lingam Tape” scandal that rocked the Malaysian Judicial system. The video revealed collusion of certain judges to make judgements to favour certain parties. This scandal further erode the trust the public has toward the judicial system. Pakatan Harapan made a bold manifesto pledge which is “Promise 19” to restore this trust that was lost. In order to move forward, we feel a short reflection is needed to remind us on the betrayal of our trust by the government and the judicial system in the past.
Click here to the Malaysiakini Piece
Govt looking to set up law commission to drive reforms, says VK Liew
12 September 2019 – The Federal Government plans to set up an independent Law Commission to review and recommend law reforms in the country. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said Malaysia is one of the few Commonwealth countries which does not have a Law Commission yet.
C4 –The trust in the judicial and legal institution in Malaysia has greatly diminished since the 1980s during the first Dr Mahatir administration with Barisan Nasional. During this period judicial independence was taken away for political expediency. On 12 September 2019, Liew Vui Keong, the Law Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department made a welcomed remark that suggests the formation of an independent Law Commission to review and recommend legal reform in the country. A law commission is set up by a government to conduct legal reform. It is independent and free from political influence. The function of the commission includes revising confusing, defunct or redundant laws. Most Commonwealth nations (like India and Bangladesh) and matured democracies (like Australia and the United Kingdom) already have law commission that reforms and updates their legal system. The establishment of the Malaysian Law Commission will fortify the independence of the Judiciary.
Ensure the appointment of judges are based on merit and experience
05 June 2019
Vinodh Pilli, a FreeMalaysiaToday writer, approached several members of the legal fraternity on their opinions on the formation of a Royal Commission of Inquiry in response to allegations of Judicial Misconduct. Opinions range from agreeing to the RCI to reporting the matter using the mechanisms within the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to putting the accused through a tribunal.
3 January 2019 – Ranbir Singh Sangha, the president of the Advocates Association of Sarawak (AAS), in a statement dated 3 January 2019 that the association will be supporting calls for constitutional amendments to allow the extension of the retirement age for all judges (including the Chief Justice of Malaysia, President of the Court of Appeal, Chief Justice of Malaya and Chief Justice of Sabah and Sarawak) to 70 years of age. Ranbir also added that the AAS is pleased with the decision to use a balloting system to allocate cases to judges as it will improve the perception of impartiality of the court.
6 March 2019 – H R Dipendra, an advocate and solicitor, wrote an article about the Malaysian judicial system and the necessity for it to be independent and impartial from influences for the other branches of government and nefarious forces. Dipendra was called to write this paper as a response to allegations made by a sitting court of appeal judge in late February 2019 on the misconduct of some in the judiciary. He calls for a comprehensive reform of the judicial system with input from all stakeholders.
1 June 2019 – In response to Court of Appeal Judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer’s explosive 65-page affidavit that outlined alleged judicial misconduct, calls for a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) has been made by politicians and members of judicial fraternity grew stronger by the day. Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister, said in late April 2019 that the cabinet has yet to finalise the details of the RCI after three months they agree on its formation. Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, a prominent lawyer, poised three questions to Tommy Thomas over this delay. He wants to know:
- Who is responsible for preparing the terms of reference for the RCI?
- Whether the terms have been finalised or not?
- What the attorney-general has been doing over the last three months in connection with the RCI?
Remove the power of PM to influence appointment of judges
3 January 2019 – Ranbir Singh Sangha, the president of the Advocates Association of Sarawak (AAS), said in a statement that Chief Justice of Malaysia, Richard Malanjum has administratively rolled out reforms in the judicial system. He pointed out the consultation of the three bars, the Malaysia Bar Council, Sabah Law Society and AAS on the process of selecting candidates for the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) which have been carried out recently. Ranbir said this in a statement issued by the AAS on the judicial reforms in the current administration.
A Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) will decide on the membership of the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC)
11 October 2018: The Star reported on 11 October 2018, that Prime Ministers Dr Mahathir Muhamad hinted that the government will be restoring credibility and integrity of the Malaysian judicial system through the introduction of a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to vet important posts in the judiciary. The PSC will vet and interrogate candidates selected before their names were submitted to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The report suggests that the PSC will be replacing the role of the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC), established 2009, role in appointing judges. However, in the independence of the JAC was in doubt as the final say in any decisions lies with the Prime Minister.
Ensure judges (including Syariah Court)’s emoluments in accordance to their professionalism
7 March 2019 – The Malay Mail published an opinion by Dato’ Mah Weng Kwai, a prominent Advocate and Solicitor, that the Pakatan Harapan government to take steps to hold judges to higher standards in order to rekindle faith in the judiciary. He suggests the following:
- E-court reforms
- Collective leadership
- Establishment of a consultative committee
- Appointment of judges
- Separation of judicial and legal services
- Written judgements
- Judicial review
- Continuing legal education
- Corporate social responsibility
Cease appointment of the Chief Justice and the President of the Court of Appeal through the backdoor
08 October 2018
Liew Vui Keong, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said to reporters on 8 October 2018 that he supports the proposal for the Malaysian Bar Council, Advocates Association of Sarawak (AAS) and the Sabah Law Society (SLS) to be part of the Judicial Appointments Committee (JAC).
18 September 2018 – The Star reported that four new people have been appointed to the Judicial Appointment Committee (JAC) on 18 September 2019. The appointees are three former judges; Datuk Mah Weng Kwai, Datuk Linton Albert and Datuk Seri Mohd Hishamudin Yunus and legal expert Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi.
Introduce a new rule requiring judges to provide written judgements each time they announce their judgement
1 April 2018 – The Chief Justice Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif launched the launch the “Malaysian Judgement Portal” on 17 April 2018. The portal www.judgements.my will allow the public access and credibility to judgements by the court. The portal was an initiative of the Malaysian Judiciary together with the ASEAN Legal Information Centre and Malaysian Law Deans Council.