Saturday, October 11, 2008

Head of the Judiciary after 18 October 2008 - Hopefully not Zaki Azmi

Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi - an UMNO man, a lawyer, was suddenly appointed to become a Federal Court Judge in September 2007...

Normally persons are first appointed High Court Judges, later maybe elevated to become a Court of Appeal judge, and maybe several years later elevated to become a Judge of the Federal Court...
Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi will today become the first lawyer to be appointed directly to the Federal Court. The only other lawyer to have bypassed the High Court in Malaysia was Justice Datuk Gopal Sri Ram - Star, 5/9/2008, Lawyer Zaki to be made Federal Court judge
And 3 months later, in December 2007, Zaki Azmi is appointed as the number 2 of the Malaysian Judiciary - the President of the Court of Appeal...

Only 3 months experience as a Judge - and he is made No. 2 of the Malaysian Judiciary ...Not at all good.

Federal Court judge Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi will take over from Abdul Hamid as Court of Appeal president

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who made the announcement in a statement yesterday, said both appointments had been consented to by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin upon his advice after consultation with the Conference of Rulers. - Star, 6/12/2007 -Abdul Hamid confirmed as CJ

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abd Aziz also said there was nothing wrong with his quick move upwards.

“There is no law against fast track appointments nor is it unconstitutional,” he said at the Parliament lobby yesterday.

Zaki’s appointment was announced by the Prime Minister on Wednesday.

He takes over from Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohamad who has been appointed the country’s new Chief Justice following the retirement of Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim on Oct 3.

He was earlier appointed Federal Court Judge in September.

Nazri said, as a lawyer, Zaki was invited to sit in the disciplinary panel of Umno because he was a lawyer with integrity.

...On Zaki's appointment, Karpal, who is DAP national chairman and a veteran lawyer, said it created a bit of apprehension among lawyers, given his political ties.

PAS Youth Chief Salahuddin Ayub expressed surprise over Zaki’s appointment and said it should have been based on rank and file.- Star, 7/12/2007 - Zaki’s rise explained

Abdul Hamid retires from the topmost judicial post in eight days’ on Oct. 18 , 2008 - and the question is who will be appointed to be the next Head of the Judiciary.

I certainly hope that it would not be Zaki Azmi .

Zaki Azmi may be a good person, but his past close association with UMNO and his unprecedented appointment from lawyer to Federal Court Judge in September, his appointment to No. 2 of of the Malaysian Judiciary in December 2007...would not be good for public perception if we want to maintain and/or restore public perception that we do indeed have an independent judiciary in Malaysia...

The Malaysian Bar does not openly come out and say that it do not want Zaki Azmi to be made the next head of the Malaysian Judiciary...but a recent statement by the Bar President indicates its concerns...(I say that they should have been very clear about their position about Zaki Azmi.) The Bar Statement is as follows:-

It is precisely to overcome any hint of subjectivity or collateral purpose in the appointment of Judges (including the Chief Justice) that the Bar Council and other organisations have pressed for the establishment of a Judicial Appointments Commission. That remains the step forward that the nation awaits.

In the absence of such a Commission, it is hoped that the applicable criteria which represent the acceptable norms in such an appointment will guide the selection process of the important position of the Chief Justice, which becomes vacant on 18th October 2008.

Seniority in terms of the position currently held is one criterion. Seniority in terms of the years of experience on the Bench is another important consideration. Other factors relate to ability and competence, which are often reflected in the quality and number of judgments written. Integrity, judicial temperament, and a demonstration of independence are also vital qualities.

It must not be forgotten that it is the Chief Justice who sets the tone in the Judiciary and guides its direction. He heads the third branch of Government, and hence a critical national institution. He must therefore enjoy the confidence of Malaysians, the consumers of the justice system.

It is also imperative that the Chief Justice be a person who is widely perceived to be above and independent of any political alliances or influences. This is all the more critical at this time when the nation faces many political challenges. When all else may seem to be in a state of flux and confusion, an independent Judiciary stands above the fray, giving the nation’s citizens a sense of security and stability that justice will continue to be administered in accordance with the rule of law, no matter what the circumstances.

In the appointment of the Chief Justice, the constitutional process of consultation with the Conference of Rulers is critical. It draws on the wealth of the Rulers’ wisdom and experience and raises the process above partisan politics. In short, it provides an essential check and balance in the appointments and promotions of judges.

Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan
Malaysian Bar

9 October 2008

[Malaysian Bar Press Release]

Zaki Azmi has only got about 13 months experience as a Judge (he was appointed in September 2007).

Zaki Azmi's past very close relationship with UMNO also makes him not a 'person who is widely perceived to be above and independent of any political alliances or influences.'

Lim Kit Siang also is very concerned when he also stated that if Zaki Azmi gets appointed then we may have yet another ' judicial scandal and crisis....'

Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi to the bench - firstly, the triple jump to become Federal Court judge in September last year without ever being High Court or Court of Appeal judge and then the quadruple jump three months later up the judicial hierarchy to become the Court of Appeal President.

Will Zaki make quintuple jump to be appointed Chief Justice of Malaysia after a year’s elevation to the bench when Abdul Hamid retires from the topmost judicial post in eight days’ on Oct. 18?

It is this possibility which holds the seeds of plunging the country into a new judicial scandal and crisis. Will this be the valedictory scandal of the Abdullah premiership? - Lim Kit Siang's Blog

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi plays the major role in determining who will be the Head of the Malaysian Judiciary...

122B. Appointment of judges of Federal Court, Court of Appeal and of High Courts.

(1) The Chief Justice of the Federal Court, the President of the Court of Appeal and the Chief Judges of the High Courts and (subject to Article 122c) the other judges of the Federal Court, of the Court of Appeal and of the High Courts shall be appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister, after consulting the Conference of Rulers. - Federal Constitution

And remember, unlike Abdul Hamid, Zaki Azmi would be only about 63 years old if appointed the No.1 of the Malaysian Judiciary - and it is a long time until his 66th Birthday (plus 6 months).

Abdul Hamid, 65, was made acting Chief Justice the day after Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim retired on Oct 3.

Zaki, 62, made history on Sept 5 by being the first lawyer to be appointed directly to the Federal Court. - Star, 6/12/2007- Abdul Hamid confirmed as CJ

125. Tenure of office and remuneration of judges of Federal Court.

(1) Subject to the provisions of Clauses (2) to (5), a judge of the Federal Court shall hold office until he attains the age of sixty-six years or such later time, not being later than six months after he attains that age, as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may approve.- Federal Constitution

So, let us all focus and play a part in the process that will decide who with the Head of the Malaysian Judiciary after 18th October..

Remember that the Judiciary is one of the 3 branches of government in a democracy, the other 2 being the Executive (PM & Cabinet) and the Legislature (Parliament).

It is to the Judiciary that we go when we have matters against the government..the Minister, the PM - and as such, it is very important that the Judiciary, and certainly its Head, be independent....and also brave. ...i.e. willing to act without fear or favour in upholding justice..

It just not just a matter of fact that is important but also the question of perception - not just to be independent but also to be seen as being independent.

Outgoing Prime Minisiter Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, have to date not been very good in the choices that he has made.

We, the rakyat, need to speak up NOW and communicate our thoughts and views to the Prime Minister especially...and maybe also the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Conference of Rulers.

Who do Malaysians want to be the Head of the Judiciary after 18th October 2008?


Anonymous said...

Can I vote for Datuk Syed Ahmad Idid?

Anonymous said...


Let us go for Dato'Syed Ahmad Idid. He can transform and bring the Judiciary to international standards.
Yes Yes Yes.