Constitutional for non-Malays to be Chief Justice, AG, or minister, says Malaysian Bar

Malaysian Bar president George Varughese said nothing in the Federal Constitution prohibits a non-Malay or a non-Muslim from holding any official positions in the executive, Parliament, or the judiciary. — Picture by Azneal Ishak
Malaysian Bar president George Varughese said nothing in the Federal Constitution prohibits a non-Malay or a non-Muslim from holding any official positions in the executive, Parliament, or the judiciary. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 — Nothing in the Federal Constitution prohibits a non-Malay or a non-Muslim from holding any official positions in the executive, Parliament, or the judiciary, the Malaysian Bar said today.

The peninsular legal body said the appointments of Attorney General Tommy Thomas, Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng were made in accordance with the Federal Constitution and their ethnicities and religious backgrounds were totally irrelevant.

“The Malaysian Bar firmly believes that these appointments were just and beyond reproach,” Malaysian Bar president George Varughese said in a statement.

“Further, Article 136 of the Federal Constitution holds that all persons in the service of the Federation shall be treated impartially. Race and religion are thus not, and must never be, determining factors in making appointments.”

Former de facto law minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz from Umno allegedly said on the Semenyih campaign trail that the appointment of non-Muslims as the AG, Chief Justice, and finance minister was causing fear among Malays.

George pointed out today that the amount of experience the three men had in their relevant fields spoke for themselves.

“Since assuming their respective offices, they have been performing their duties in accordance with their oaths of office. Remarks with regard to their racial or religious backgrounds, and that of any other employee of the Federation, are irrelevant and irresponsible, and must cease,” he said. 

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