Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Judicial Renaissance

(Source: Bernama)

Addressing a conference of Malaysian judges in Putrajaya earlier today, the Regent of Perak HRH Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah (photo) said the time is right for a "judicial renaissance" and to review the way judicial appointments and promotions are made. A significant call indeed from one of Malaysia’s most respected voices. (TheSun has the full text of his speech, here.)

Raja Nazrin Shah said that in the last two decades, judicial independence and integrity have been eroded. The result: lack of confidence in the judicial system and the complete disregard for the law by some quarters. "These are dark stains on our honour and reputations and they have the potential to weaken, if not destroy the nation," he said. "Until judicial power is reinvested in the judiciary in much the same way that executive power is invested in the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Cabinet, and the legislative power in Parliament, it will be difficult to convince anyone, not our citizens and not the world community, that we are a nation governed by the rule of law," he added.

In respect for the rule of law, which is a universal ideal, the Regent also quoted his father Sultan Azlan Shah, a former Lord President of the Federal Court:

"(The) right to be governed by laws and not by arbitrary officials is the most precious right of democracy—the right to reasonable, definite and proclaimed standards, which we as citizens can invoke against both malevolence and caprice."

For the record, de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim has also suggested that the government apologise for the sacking of Lord President Salleh Abas in 1988. He has now the support of the current Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad.

I am glad that we have enough sane voices advocating the rule of law for the sake of the nation and the rakyat while big time crooks posing as the powers- that-be quarrel amongst themselves to save their party and self interests.


  1. Capt:

    HRH Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah stated his views very well. In his speech, he pointed out that in the last two decades, judicial independence and integrity in Malaysia have eroded.

    Along with others, HRH is pointing to the events of 1988, when Dr. Mahathir was the PM. History is beginning to judge Dr. Mahathir for his role in the judicial crises of that time. For a man who transformed Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir's role in the 1988 judicial crises will be a stain on his legacy.

    Realistic appraisals of our past (and present!) leaders are part of the strengthening of the democratic process in Malaysia. The emergence of a political culture that allows for such appraisals is, I believe, as important to the democratic process as the establishment of the rule of law.


  2. Dear AM,

    I'm all for reforms in the judiciary. For justice to be dispensed with, the people resonsible for the administration of justice must be flawless, and seen to be so as well. Is this possible Capt?

    And for the Rulers to be speaking up and speaking out, one must give them credit. In fact, a few of them makes better statements that our politicians, including those supposedly tasked with judicial reforms (never mind if he get into the Cabinet through the back door and already slammed by his seniors).

    I do believe our rulers mean well, but I know that some, if not all of them, are also businessmen. A few of them are outright businessmen, while others hide behind corporates and individuals. When Sultans get involved in businesses, are they competing on a level playing field? How many MBs and Cabinet Ministers have succumbed to their arm-twisting ways? Capt, you'll be surprised to know who among our Rulers are no different from the likes of Patrick Badawi, Vincent Tan etc...

    Would this see print Capt? Tks


  3. Err...Capt,

    The present CJ's tenure will expire in Oct'08 unless extended for another year.

    Thereafter, the COA judge takes over as the norm.

    And we know how quickly 'junior' ZA rose up the bench bypassing several senior judges.

    Whilst a judicial commission, managed by their peers and without executive interference, would be ideal for a nation to be governed by the rule of law, will there be sufficient time (and I might add, political will) for this to materialise?

    As BN and PR go through the current governance flux, contentious issues which will be brought up by both sides which may require remedy in the courts.

    Perhaps, the Lingamgate RCI report will be the nation's benchmark for true democracy.

    Meanwhile, it's nice to hear what HRH have to say but ultimately, it's up to the legal fraternity and the bench to rid the rot.

  4. Dear Captain,

    Thank you for the timely piece.

    As I read the Sun this A.M. I felt my spirits rise. Again the wise Regent has so eloquently spoken the truth in no uncertain terms.

    But if the powers that be still do not get the drift -- which in all fairness is most likely to be the case given the track record, then the Conference of Rulers must act decisively.

    We cannot go on and on being subservient to politicians who speak 'in tongues' when the rakyat prefer common sense.

    Hopefully the Regent who has so successfully expressed vocally the hopes, aspirations and desires of the rakyat, will now drive the wedge through if need be.

  5. capt., many will hold their tongues for fear of picking out the 'wrong leaders' who may change with time. If one is realistic enough in life, one knows that nothing is constant except change. One should not look at history with a rigid mind; changes when they come could be for better or for worse, that we cannot avoid; but given the situation now, we have to voice our support to the most enlightened mind available at the moment.Trying to consider too many IFs will not take us anywhere.
    Many ppl seem to judge others by their standard and many a time it actually amplify their very thoughts of thing they perceive. In history, good and able leaders are as seldom as the purple moon. So if one comes along, we did better support him.


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