Chief Justice delivers sole speech at opening of Legal Year

Chief Justice Tun Md Raus Sharif is pictured at the 2017 ‘Inns of Court Malaysia’ meeting (ICM) at the Palace of Justice, Putrajaya. December 12, 2017. — Bernama pic
Chief Justice Tun Md Raus Sharif is pictured at the 2017 ‘Inns of Court Malaysia’ meeting (ICM) at the Palace of Justice, Putrajaya. December 12, 2017. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 12 — Chief Justice Tun Md Raus Sharif today took to the stage to deliver the only speech at the 2018 Opening of the Legal Year (OLY) in Putrajaya.

Other stakeholders such as the Malaysian Bar were barred from delivering speeches as part of a new format called the Judicial Year.

Malaysiakini quoted Raus as saying that the decision was made because the Malaysian Bar had been insistent on bringing up the issue of his appointment as Chief Justice (CJ) as well as the appointment of the Court of Appeal president Justice Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin – both of whose tenure had been extended beyond the constitutional retirement age of 66 years and six months.

“So it is not proper for them to raise it here. If you speak on the issue the attorney-general (Mohamed Apandi Ali) may want to respond to it in his speech. I also looked at two pages of a copy of Malaysian Bar president (George Varughese’s) speech and he wants to raise the issue.

“They (the Bar) are insisting on raising the issue, which is in court. Objections cannot be raised at a public forum like this. Look, this event is organised by the judiciary. Say there is an invitation sent to people to your house, but you criticise the host – it would be unfair, right?” Raus reportedly told reporters later.

“Hence, we decided to change the format this year, because of their (the Bar’s) insistence,” he added.

The change of format also means the Attorney-General was not allowed to deliver his speech.

Raus was quoted telling journalists that he had several meetings with the Malaysian Bar prior to the event today, advising the body not raise his and Zulkefli’s tenure extension issue, since the matter is now already being challenged in court.

It was reported that the Malaysian Bar had resorted to holding its own OLY at a private club, ahead of the scheduled programme by the judiciary.

Bar president George Varughese said that the event was held as a result of ‘certain events’ that had taken place last year and the position that the Malaysian Bar had adopted.

He said Bar presidents had always used the OLY as a platform to reflect on important events with regards to the rule of law and the administration of justice in the previous years.

Raus and Zulkefli are currently the CJ and President of the Court of Appeal, with the two other most high-ranking judges in Malaysia being Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop and Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum.

The Malaysian Bar’s members last year agreed to file a lawsuit to challenge the extension of the CJ and President of Court of Appeal’s terms, and to also snub both top judges at social functions and dinners.

These were part of eight resolutions voted in by a majority of 993 lawyers who attended the Malaysian Bar’s extraordinary general meeting (EGM)