LET US SAVE THE JUDICIARY
Lawyer and Human Rights activist Harris Ibrahim has started another Petition from concerned citizens to His Majesty the Yang DiPertuan Agong.
In his latest entry Ampun Tuanku, Patik-patik Petisyen Lagi, he is asking for the deferment of the appointment of the President of the Court of Appeal, Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi, pending the findings and recommendations of the intended Royal Commission of Inquiry .
He cites eight reasons why the rakyats are concerned over Tan Sri Zaki's appointment.
1. As a reaction to the disclosure of the now infamous VK Lingam video in mid-September this year, on 25/10/2007 5,035 loyal subjects petitioned Your Majesty to voice their concerns about, amongst other things, how very senior judges were bypassed in favour of junior judges in the numerous promotion exercises that took place during the tenure of Tun Ahmad Fairuz,. Your Majesty’s petitioners had also prayed that Your Majesty might be moved to :
1.1 direct the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry to embark upon a thorough examination of the problems presently affecting the judiciary as exposed by the VK Lingam video and to make all necessary recommendations to set the judiciary right; and
1.2 direct the immediate establishment of an independent Commission for the appointment and promotion of judges to the High Courts, the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court.
2. On 16/11/2007, the Prime Minister announced that a Royal Commission of Inquiry would be established to look into the matter of the VK Lingam video. The terms of reference of such a Royal Commission have not been announced and we are informed through media reports nominations for appointment to such a Royal Commission have been forwarded to Your Majesty and await the approval of Your Majesty.
3. On 5/12/2007, the rakyat were informed that Your Majesty had assented to the appointment of Dato’ Abdul Hamid bin Haji Mohamad as the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, his appointment taking effect from 1/11/2007. We are most grateful to Your Majesty and Their Royal Highnesses the Malay Rulers for this exercise of wisdom and care in the selection of this most senior and respected judge to lead our judiciary. We, the rakyat, place much hope upon Dato’ Abdul Hamid to do all that is necessary to restore public confidence in the judiciary as the third independent arm of government.
4. We, the rakyat, are however deeply concerned at the parallel announcement that Tan Sri Dato’ Zaki bin Tun Azmi, who was only just appointed as a judge in September, 2007 and that too, directly to the Federal Court, had been selected to be the President of the Court of Appeal, his tenure to commence from a date to be fixed.
5. Our concern at the intended appointment of Tan Sri Dato’ Zaki as the next President of the Court of Appeal is grounded on the following :
5.1 Tan Sri Dato’ Zaki is just about the most junior judge amongst all judges of the High Courts, the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court;
5.2 Tan Sri Dato’ Zaki is the most junior amongst the 8 Federal Court judges, and his selection as President of the Court of Appeal would most unfairly raise questions about the competence of the other 7 very much more senior judges of the Federal Court ;
5.3 Tan Sri Dato’ Zaki has been very intimately involved in UMNO, having at one time held the position of chairman of the party’s election committee, deputy chairman of its disciplinary board of appeal and party legal adviser. It is unclear if he is still a card carrying member of UMNO or, if he has ceased to be one, when he ceased being such;
5.4 Tan Sri Dato’ Zaki has been linked to financial scandals involving UMNO that were allegedly bailed out by the government;
5.5 Tan Sri Dato’ Zaki has been very intimately involved in the corporate world as a major shareholder and / or director in several corporate entities, many of which were known to have business dealings with the government; and
5.6 Tan Sri Dato’ Zaki had previously been embroiled in a very public personal scandal in which he was implicated of destroying documentary evidence, a matter that led to his voluntary resignation from the UMNO discplinary committee for fear of impeaching the integrity of the other members of the said committee.
6. It is widely recognized that public confidence in the Judiciary is at a very low level and that the Judiciary is no longer as respected, both nationally and internationally, as it once was. This has been occasioned, in part, through partisan selection and promotion of judges by reference to their allegiance rather than merit. His Royal Highness, the Sultan of Perak, a former Lord President himself, officially recognized this regrettable state of affairs at the Malaysian Law Conference in October this year.
7. We, the rakyat, believe that the independent Commission for the appointment and promotion of judges prayed for earlier would go a long way to helping avoid scandals like the VK Lingam video that have seemingly been allowed for by the manner in which judges have been appointed and promoted and restoring confidence in the Judiciary. The appropriateness of such a mechanism may be one of the matters the Royal Commission may take into consideration.
8. For these many reasons, we, the rakyat, now pray that Your Majesty may be so moved to defer the appointment of the President of the Court of Appeal until the intended Royal Commission of Inquiry deliver its findings and recommendations. We believe that it would not be inappropriate for the Chief Justice to discharge the functions of the President in an ‘acting’ capacity. This was in fact the case prior to the appointment of Dato’ Abdul Hamid Bin Haji Mohamad as President
If you want to lend your support to this petition to His Majesty, please send an e-mail to :