PUTRAJAYA, Jan 12 — A contempt proceeding can be initiated against those with court cases seen to be vilifying the judiciary, Chief Justice of Malaysia Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat said but admitted it is usually initiated very sparingly.

She also insisted that any accused’s attempt to paint a picture of their cases in press conferences or online will not matter in their court hearings, since the judiciary will decide based on pieces of evidence that have been presented there.

“It depends on the extent of the statements that they make,” she told reporters when asked about out-of-court statements on judgments made by accused persons.

This includes convicted former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his legal team, and she was asked if this would risk them being charged with contempt of court, or if their remarks could count as subjudice.

“Yes, it could subject them to contempt proceedings but then again, I think we are all very clear here that contempt proceedings are there to protect the judiciary as an institution, but then again, are also very clear that proceedings are to be taken very sparingly,” she said.

“So again, coming back to whoever the accused persons are, whatever they want to say about their cases, they want to tell the whole world about their side of the story, to us, basically it doesn’t really matter, because what matters is what are the evidence that has been laid in court and that would be the basis for our decisions in respect of those cases.

“And I think insofar actions of the lawyers concerned, they are also subject to the code of ethics for lawyers under the Legal Profession Act,” she added.

The press conference was held after the Opening of the Legal Year 2022, at the Palace of Justice here.

On the views of the public on social media on the judiciary when it comes to certain high profile cases, Tengku Maimun said that the judicial institution works within the ambit of the law and by convention, would not respond to anything posted on the internet, adding that “because our experience showed us that whatever we say would not make any difference.”

“Our policy has always been, the public is entitled to their own views, so they can say or express their views and we will just discharge our duties as per the law.

“So that much is clear. So we wouldn’t be making any comments in relation to what people are saying about us, either in the social media or anywhere else,” she said.

Last year, the High Court had ruled that Najib had through his Facebook postings attacked former Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, who is listed as a witness in his 1MDB trial.