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Monday, November 5, 2007

Full support for sultan’s call

NST (31/10/2007): There is a resounding yes for reform in the judiciary. Retired judges, lawyers and politicians lauded yesterday Sultan Azlan Shah’s call for judicial reform.

Calling Sultan Azlan Shah’s speech at the 14th Malaysian Law conference 2007 “fabulous", retired Court of Appeal judge Datuk V.C. George said: “It made my hair stand on end listening to him. I’ve been screaming for reforms for years.

“The only person in the country, as far as I can see, who doesn’t agree is the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz.”

Retired Court of Appeal judge, Datuk K.C. Vohrah called Sultan Azlan Shah’s speech “excellent", adding this was “exactly what we need".

On the other hand, constitutional law lecturer Professor Shad Saleem Faruqi said although there was a need for reform of the judiciary, there was nothing wrong with the law.

“The law is excellent. The law on appointments and on dismissal is far better than the law in the United States and and the United Kingdom where parliament can dismiss judges.

“Here judges can only be dismissed on the recommendation of their brother and sister judges.”

Shad Saleem said the compelling problem in the country was the constantly used ’systems approach’.

“We are constantly trying to plant new systems and procedures, which is fine.

“However, what is disregarded is that systems are only as good as the people who administer them.

“We don’t train, choose and develop the right personnel. The selection system is such that the right people are not being promoted.

“What is seriously needed is an overhaul of the personnel manning our institutions who are actually not doing justice to the promise of the law, who are keeping the constitution at the periphery rather than bringing it to the heart of our legal system,” said Shad Saleem.

Acting Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said the party was concerned about feedback that recent incidents had adversely affected public perception of the judiciary.

This, he added, was because the judiciary was a crucial part of a liberal and progressive parliamentary democracy.

“As such, we applaud and support Sultan Azlan Shah’s call for all judges to be judges for all Malaysians in line with the spirit of the Federal Constitution and Rukun Negara.

“We also commend Sultan Azlan Shah’s wisdom to call for reform in the Malaysian judiciary,” he said in a statement.

The Sultan of Perak said in his opening address at the 14th Malaysian Law Conference on Monday that it was time for the judiciary to regain the public’s confidence and win back the high esteem it used to enjoy.

Koh said: “We take note of Sultan Azlan Shah’s reminder to judges to be sensitive to the feelings of all parties, irrespective of race, religion or creed and that they should be judges of all Malaysians.”

He also said it was equally important for the Bar Council to play a positive role in ensuring that the Malaysian judiciary discharged its duties effectively.

Zaid Ibrahim, a senior lawyer and MP for Kota Baru said Malaysia still had judges of high calibre but there was a need to improve the judiciary’s image.


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