New CJ points at social media for negative perception on judiciary

Chief Justice Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya May 6, 2019. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Chief Justice Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya May 6, 2019. — Picture by Choo Choy May

PUTRAJAYA, May 6 — The new Chief Justice, Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, today said social media has contributed to the negative perception on the judiciary.

In a special interview with journalists at her office here, she said that her main challenges, therefore, are to maintain public confidence and tackle the negative perception.

Tengku Maimun added that it would also be a feat to address such perception, especially against the backdrop of the damning affidavit filed by a sitting judge, alleging judicial malfeasance in two high-profile cases.

However, she affirmed that the controversies relating to the affidavit were perception issues and that in reality, the judiciary is in great form.

“You see, it’s a matter of perception. If I can answer you honestly, social media is one of the reasons, because sometimes people write in the social media things which they do not have actual knowledge off, and this will go viral,” she said.

Tengku Maimun was asked if she would be facing a tough time in pursuing judicial reforms, especially after the affidavit by Court of Appeal judge, Datuk Hamid Sultan Abu Backer, and asked to comment on what caused the negative perception on the said institution.

On February 14, Hamid filed the affidavit supporting lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo’s application to declare the failure of a former Chief Justice to defend the integrity of the judiciary in two cases.

One of it being the sedition case involving the late veteran politician and lawyer, Karpal Singh, who is Sangeet’s father.

The 65-page affidavit accused several unnamed judges of misconduct and of trying to scam the government, while also interfering with other judge’s decisions.

In response the government announced that a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) will investigate the claims made against the judiciary.

Recently, Tengku Maimun was highlighted to be the sole judge in a three-person Court of Appeal panel in 2016 to have disagreed that Karpal should be convicted for sedition.

She was alleged to be the only judge who held firm to her decision in spite of prior judicial interference attempts.

Karpal was posthumously cleared of the conviction almost five years later in March this year, when the Federal Court unanimously acquitted him over his legal opinion as a lawyer and MP regarding the then Perak Sultan’s role in the 2009 Perak constitutional crisis.

During the interview today, Tengku Maimun also advised the media to play a more proactive role in reporting cases accurately, to avoid social media slander.

“The media should probably play a role. Especially the mainstream media. To report cases, accurately and in terms of public interest cases or important cases, what we do have now is to prepare summary for the press. So we will do that.

“The reason behind that is when we issue that press summary of the judgement, then it’s easier to understand rather than the whole judgement being given to  the press.

“That means, you all have a responsibility to report it accurately,” she added.

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