KUALA LUMPUR, July 7 — Plans are underway for a complete revamp of the country’s judicial system, including the appointments of its top judges, de facto law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong said.
The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said the Pakatan Harapan government is reviewing the laws concerning the appointments of the Chief Justice (CJ) to prevent a future recurrence of retaining judges past what the Federal Constitution provides for their lawful employ.
“We will use administrative powers to make certain corrections to conditions.
“Everything would have to be done according to the provisions of the Constitution and the rule of law,” he told news portal Malaysiakini in an interview published today.
The appointments of outgoing CJ Tun Md Raus Sharif and Court of Appeal President Tun Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin who were past their constitutionally mandated retirement age of 66 years and six months last year during the Barisan Nasional administration had sparked a public uproar.
Both were appointed as additional judges, which allowed them to stay on in their positions when they should have retired. Raus and Zulkefli have since tendered their resignations and will leave end of this month.
The previous administration had argued that Article 122 (1A) of the Federal Constitution allows the appointment of legal judges without an age limit.
Liew acknowledged that the judicial incident had made Malaysia into an international “laughing stock”.
No one has been named to the country’s top two judge positions, giving rise to much speculation.
Some observers think the current Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum could be the next CJ, especially after he was seen attending the recent ministerial swearing-in ceremony at Istana Negara.
Malanjum is also the most senior judge at the federal level, having been Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak since 2005.
Federal Court judge Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed, 62, is also a prime candidate if his age and potential length of his ability to serve in that position is taken into account.
Liew only told Malaysiakini that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has the prerogative to advise the King on the judicial appointments.
“I leave it to the wisdom of prime minister on the Chief Justice’s post.”