Thursday, December 06, 2007

For the good of Malaysian Judiciary, Zaki Azmi MUST Resign

3 months ago a lawyer - suddenly in an unprecedented move elevated straight to a Federal Court judge - and now appointed as Judiciary's N0. 2. Oh yes - he was UMNO's lawyer & sat also in several other UMNO committees is these facts that makes his appointment as the Court of Appeal President not at all good for the public perception of a fair and independent Judiciary.

ZAKI AZMI, should do Malaysia, especially the Malaysian Judiciary, and immediately tender his resignation as the President of the Court of Appeal.

Abdul Hamid is new CJ, Zaki is judiciary's No 2
Dec 5, 07 5:29pm

Court of Appeal president Abdul Hamid Mohamad has been today appointed as the new chief justice, which is the judiciary's most powerful post.

Meanwhile Zaki Azmi - who has parachuted into the Federal Court three months ago - has been appointed Court of Appeal president, taking over Abdul Hamid’s former post.

Zaki's lightning-fast promotion to the judiciary's No 2 post is unprecedented and is expected to raise eyebrows.

The King, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, has consented to the appointment of the duo on the advice of the prime minister and after consultation with the Conference of Rulers, said Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in a statement.

Abdullah said that Abdul Hamid's appointment took effect on Nov 1 while Zaki's would be decided later.

The premier added that the Federal Court is in discussion with Istana Negara as to when the instruments of appointment will be handed over to the two judges.

Abdul Hamid, 65, (left) was made acting CJ when Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim (right) retired on Nov 1 under a cloud of controversy linked to the Lingam tape despite an indirect denial of involvement.

Abdul Hamid is expected to serve for no more than one year before he too retires from judicial service.

Born in Penang, Abdul Hamid was appointed head of the appellate court on Sept 5. He joined the legal service in 1969 and has served in Perlis, Perak, Kedah, Selangor and Kelantan.

He was made judicial commissioner of the High Court of Malaya in 1990 and two years later, became a High Court judge.

After being appointed to the Court of Appeal in September 2000, he was elevated to the Federal Court in August 2003. He has a year of service left before reaching the age of compulsory retirement.

Another blow?

The unconventional elevation of Zaki, 62, could pose another blow to the ailing reputation of the judiciary. Exactly three months ago, he became the first lawyer to be directly appointed into the Federal Court.

Before this, only lawyer Gopal Sri Ram had bypassed serving in the High Court when he was appointed to the Court of Appeal in 1994.

Zaki previously served as Umno’s legal adviser and disciplinary committee chairperson. He was also the party’s selection committee secretary and deputy chairperson of the disciplinary board appeal panel.

He stepped down from these posts in 2005 following his divorce from his second wife, Nor Hayati Yahaya, who was almost half his age.

With Abdul Hamid due for retirement next year, Zaki is the frontrunner for the judiciary's No 1 post.

Bar surprised over appointment

Meanwhile in an immediate response, the Malaysian Bar expressed surprise over the appointment of Zaki as the Court of Appeal president “given that there were other suitable candidates in terms of seniority and service in the judiciary”.

The Bar’s president Ambiga Sreenevasan said in a statement that Zaki was also only recently elevated to the Federal Court.

“There are the added concerns of his previous business interests and involvement in Umno,” she added.

However she said that the Bar, representing some 13,000 lawyers in Peninsular Malaysia, hoped that these concerns will be dispelled by Zaki’s display of integrity and exemplary performance on the bench.

While congratulating both Abdul Hamid and Zaki on their appointment, Ambiga also said that the Bar was looking forward to a new era of co-operation with the judiciary.

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