Thursday, September 27, 2007

Towards an Independent Judiciary System

PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CPPS Press Statement: Towards an Independent Judiciary System

The Centre for Public Policy Studies affirms the efforts of the Malaysian Bar in conducting a peaceful march to the Prime Minister's Office in Putrajaya. The CPPS also supports the memorandum that was subsequently submitted by the Malaysian Bar, to establish a Royal Commission of Enquiry to investigate the video recording of a lawyer who appears to be in telephone conversation with a senior member of the judiciary. A Royal Commission has the power to call upon witnesses and to extract information that would extend beyond the jurisdiction of the present Independent Panel.

Should the telephone conversation be genuine, this has severe implications upon the judicial system, where evidence shows extraneous influence upon the appointment and promotion of judges in Malaysia. This directly affects the cases which are then brought to court. The honour and dignity of the judicial system is in serious question.

In its Merdeka Statement that was launched in early August, the CPPS stated strongly that the independence of the Judiciary should be protected by establishing an Independent Judicial Appointments Commission. This Commission should comprise the Chief Justice, representatives from the legal profession and lay members that would make non-biased recommendations for the appointment and promotion of Judges for the High Court, Court of Appeal and Federal Court. Only such a Commission would ensure the transparent selection, appointment and promotion of Judges in the country.

The CPPS is therefore disappointed with the reaction of Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, who has accused organizers for creating a scandal to erode public confidence in the judiciary, and for dismissing the need for an Independent Judicial Commission.

Whilst the CPPS welcomes the setting up of the 3-member independent panel to investigate the authenticity of the video recording, it recommends that the Royal Commission with greater powers should be established. To address the larger and more important issue of an independent judiciary system, an Independent Judicial Appointments Commission should be immediately established. These measures must be taken to restore the integrity of the judiciary system in Malaysia that has for too long been compromised.

Tricia Yeoh
Centre for Public Policy Studies
27th September 2007
Kuala Lumpur

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