KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 — The candidate to replace Tan Sri Richard Malanjum as chief justice (CJ) is still awaiting approval from the Conference of Rulers, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.
The prime minister said there is a provision that requires the nomination to be submitted to the Conference and not just Yang di-Pertuan Agong amid the purported delay of appointing the replacement.
“We have informed the Agong. There is a need for [him] to inform the other rulers, so that is being done now and we are waiting for them to give the approval,” he was quoted as telling a press conference here.
Yesterday, Singapore’s Straits Times reported that Putrajaya and the Malay rulers could again tangle over another crucial appointment, with a report suggesting that the latter were holding up the replacement for Malanjum.
The appointment of the country’s most senior judge must gain consent of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to be effective, which it has not, leaving the judiciary leaderless for the time being.
The situation now is similar to the resistance towards Tommy Thomas’s appointment as attorney general (AG) last year, which was believed to have been delayed over the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s purported concerns about the former’s ability to defend Malay-Muslim interests.
Then Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V eventually relented, however, paving way for Thomas to become the first non-Muslim to fill the role of Malaysia’s AG, but the rumblings did not end there.
The CJ’s appointment will be closely watched as it will serve as an indicator of the health of relations between the federal government and the Malay rulers, after public spats over various issues including the abortive bid to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.