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Appointment of Chief Judge – one up for Conference of Rulers and major setback to the prestige and authority of the Prime Minister as a result of the seven-month constitutional impasse and crisis

Media Statement (2) 
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Thursday): The appointment of Datuk Alauddin Mohd Sheriff as the Chief Judge of Malaya is one up for the Conference of Rulers and one down for Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi  – as the debacle is a major setback to the prestige and authority of the Prime Minister as a result of the seven-month constitutional impasse and crisis. 

The objection of the Conference of Rulers to the earlier nominee for the Chief Judge of Malaya resulting in the seven-month constitutional deadlock has proved to be fully justified and the Prime Minister most imprudent and ill-advised to give blind support to the proposal submitted by the Chief Justice, Tun Ahmad Fairuz Abdul Halim. 

The question crying out for answer is why the Prime Minister placed himself in such an embarrassing and indefensible position and for such a protracted length of time. 

Isn’t there a proper mechanism to vet candidates whether for judicial appointments or promotions? 

The Chief Justice must bear great responsibility for the constitutional debacle but from the constitutional standpoint, the Prime Minister cannot shirk final responsibility as the buck must stop at his desk. 

Fairuz now says that he is waiting for an explanation from a Federal Court judge on his failure to write the grounds of judgments in more than 35 civil and criminal cases. 

Malaysians are waiting for Fairuz himself to explain why he had not taken action for more than a month when such judicial misconduct was first reported in the media – as such failure by the Chief Justice to take prompt action against all forms of miscarriages of justice is a grave failing and misconduct for the holder of the highest judicial office in the land. 

It has been reported that Fairuz had applied for a six-month extension of his tenure as chief justice as his appointment ends on Nov. 1, when he turns 66, the retirement age for judges. 

Because of his judicial failings and misconduct, over the constitutional debacle over his nominee as Chief Judge of Malaya and even more important, his failure to initiate judicial reforms to restore public confidence in the independence, impartiality, integrity, quality and professionalism of judges, he should withdraw his request to the Yang di Pertuan Agong for a six-month extension to allow for a new person to helm the Malaysian judiciary on a new reformist slate.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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