Top two judges’ exit helps avert legal crisis, says lawyer

Syahredzan Johan said their resignations were the best solution to prevent a prolonged legal tussle. — Picture by Zuraneeza Zulkifli
Syahredzan Johan said their resignations were the best solution to prevent a prolonged legal tussle. — Picture by Zuraneeza Zulkifli

KUALA LUMPUR, June 13 — A lawyer has welcomed Tun Raus Sharif and Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinuddin’s decision to resign as Chief Justice and President of the Court of Appeal, saying the move will help avert a constitutional crisis.

Syahredzan Johan, also the political secretary of Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang, said their resignations were the best solution to prevent a prolonged legal tussle. 

Both Raus and Zulkefli had held their positions as Chief Justice and President of the Court of Appeal since April 1, 2017, with their term for these positions controversially extended past their constitutional retirement age under the Najib administration.

“The resignations of the current Chief Justice and Court of Appeal President is the best solution,” the lawyer said in a statement responding to the news.

“I adhere to the resolution of the Malaysian Bar on August 3, 2017, that found the duo’s positions as Chief Justice and Court of Appeal President invalid and unconstitutional because they had passed the constitutional age limit of 66 years and six months.

“Therefore their decision to vacate the posts has helped reduce the risk of a prolonged constitutional crisis, which could hamper efforts to rebuild the country.”

The resignations will be effective July 31, the Chief Registrar’s Office said in a statement today.

According to the statement, the duo had met Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on May 15 — just a day after the new government was formed — and informed him of their intention to resign and asked for the resignation to take effect at a “reasonable” date to allow for their duties to be completed first.

Speculation over who would replace Raus and Zulkefli spread almost immediately after the media reported the resignations. 

Raus and Zulkefli were initially scheduled to end their term as Chief Justice and President of the Court of Appeal on August 3, 2017 and September 27, 2017 which is also when they hit the constitutional age limit of 66 years and six months old.

But the Prime Minister’s Office under Datuk Seri Najib Razak on July 7, 2017 announced the duo’s appointment as additional judges and the effective extension of their term as two of the country’s most powerful judges.

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