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Rescue the judiciary; restore rule of law

A royal commission of inquiry into the judiciary is needed

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All those judges who subverted justice and bent backwards to pander to the politicians must be removed and brought to book, writes P Ramakrishnan.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has moved with great alacrity to set things right.

He had given clear warning to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Electoral Commission and the attorney general that their conduct would come under strict scrutiny to determine whether they had committed any wrongdoing.

He pledged that heads would roll if they were found guilty of any wrongdoing. He prevented Najib Razak from leaving the country. He instructed the police to unseal the 1MDB audit report. He spoke to heads of government departments.

He is a man in a hurry to right the many wrongs perpetrated by Najib, the anti-democrat. Things are moving clearly and efficiently in the interests of the nation and of justice. Malaysians are pleased and encouraged that a new dawn has indeed arrived!

I hope that he will give equal attention to the judiciary and cleanse it to restore public confidence in the judiciary, which is at rock-bottom. Some of the decisions made by certain judges involving 1MDB and the constituency boundary changes left many startled and flabbergasted. There may be an urgent need to revisit these decisions to ensure that justice and fairness was not denied to the litigants who turned to the courts for relief.

Of paramount importance would be to investigate whether the extensions of service of the current Chief Justice, Mohd Raus Sharif, and the Court of Appeal President, Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, beyond their compulsory retirement age and their subsequent reappointments as chief justice and Court of Appeal president were legal and valid under the provisions of the Constitution. Many view these extensions as illegal and unconstitutional.

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Eminent legal minds were of the opinion that such extensions and reappointments went against the constitution. They contended that there was no provision to justify these extensions and reappointments after 66 years and six months.

Many were suspicious that these were political appointments to protect the wrongdoings involving 1MDB. We need to ascertain if these appointments were proper with no political strings attached. We cannot sacrifice the sanctity of the judiciary at the expense of justice.

There is an urgency to appoint a panel of eminent, respected, retired judges to investigate these appointments that were deemed politically motivated.

We hope that Mahathir will also look into this wrongdoing with seriousness. The judiciary is the fountain of justice and the water that cascades from it should not be tainted or jeopardised by unscrupulous politicians meddling in the judiciary for their own survival. The judiciary should never be manipulated to stray from the path of truth and justice.

We need to rescue the judiciary and restore public confidence, which has been eroded as a result of political meddling in the appointments of the chief justice and president of the Court of Appeal. It is said that the bedrock of the judiciary is the rule of law, where the law is applied in its generality, equality and neutrality. That means having an independent judiciary and judges who can make decisions independently without bias, political interference or influence. We must ensure that this prevails in our judiciary.

All those who subverted justice and bent backwards to pander to the politicians must be removed and brought to book. The sooner it is done the better.

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