Thursday, April 10, 2008

Time right for formation of judicial commission?

The time is ripe for the establishment of a Judicial Commission to handle judicial appointments and promotions of judges, the Regent of Perak Raja Dr Nazrin Shah said.

Saying Malaysia needed nothing short of a judicial renaissance, Raja Nazrin called for serious attention to be given to the suggestion of setting up the commission given the recent general election results which were reflective of the will of the people for changes and more transparent mechanisms.

"We are now at a critical time in our nation’s history, one where the institutions of state – indeed, the foundations of our democracy – which we have built up since independence, are under scrutiny,” Raja Nazrin said when addressing 90 judges from the Federal Court, Court of Appeal and High Court on the first day of the Judges Conference yesterday.

“The just concluded 12th general election has ushered in a host of changes. Among other things, it has introduced a greater degree of contestation in policy-making, legislation and administration than many would previously have thought possible.

“Whatever the case, the new political realities have proven to be and will continue to be challenging. They send a clear message that we cannot continue on a course of ‘business as usual’,” he said.

Raja Nazrin said he was happy to note that in the recent years, there had been a greater willingness on the part of the Prime Minister to consult the Conference of Rulers in a meaningful way.

“This is very much in keeping with the spirit of the Constitution and I believe, leads to the building up of further confidence in the judiciary,” he said.

Raja Nazrin also said that the present climate gave the judiciary an excellent opportunity to press on with much needed changes as a judicial renaissance was one of the most important requirements for continued economic, scientific and technological progress.

He said he agreed with the views of many that the most basic first step to be taken was to ensure judicial power was vested again in the judiciary to the position that it had in the Constitution from the time of Merdeka until 20 years ago.

“Unless this is done, the doctrine of the separation of powers, which underscores our democracy, will remain effectively muted.

“Preserving and protecting the Constitution require judicial courage. Judges need to display the necessary courage when interpreting our supreme law, the Constitution,” he said.

Chief Justice Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohamad welcomed the setting up of a judicial commission but said it was a policy decision for the Executive arm of the government to make.

In his opening speech, Abdul Hamid said he would agree to notion if the Executive believed that by appointing this committee, it would help in identifying the right candidates, redeem the negative perception of the judiciary and regain the public’s confidence.

However, he suggested that the “right people” of integrity, who are knowledgeable, incorruptible, fair and without any vested interest be appointed.

“They should not have an agenda of their own; neither should they be a conduit for lobbying for the judgeship,” he said, adding that whatever system was adopted, it was the people who implemented it that mattered.

Baguslah, sekurang-kurangnya selepas ini rakyat akan rasa benar-benar diadili dengan saksama...

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