|Judiciary backs apology to Salleh|
|Chan Kok Leong | Apr 9, 08 12:10pm|
Chief Justice of Malaysia Abdul Hamid Mohamad today welcomed the call by de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim for the government to apologise to former lord president Salleh Abas for his sacking in 1988.
In his address at a judges' conference in Putrajaya, Abdul Hamid also spoke in favour of establishing a commission to vet candidates for the appointment of judges and senior posts.
Last month, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Zaid Ibrahim said the government should apologise to Salleh and two other supreme court judges over their sacking and suspension.
Many observers have pointed out that the sacking of Salleh was the starting point of the judicial crisis in this country, which still remains unresolved.
Honesty and integrity
Agreeing with this, Abdul Hamid said the negative public perception on the institution was not a result of "what had happened just a few months ago, but an accumulation of what has been happening over the past two decades beginning with the dismissal of lord president Tun Salleh Abas and two former judges (Wan Suleiman and George Seah)."
"Politicised to the hilt, the full effect is now felt and we bear the burden of trying to redeem those negative perceptions," he told the conference of almost 200 judges from the High Court, Court of Appeal and the Federal Court.
"As far as I'm concerned, if the executive believes it is a proper thing to do, I welcome it. After all, in that episode, the judiciary was on the receiving end."
He also reminded the attendees that "while we judge people, people also judge us."
"The public expects a high standard of honesty and integrity from judges. We are the last hope and the last frontier for the people.
"We all know what is right and what is wrong for judges to do. The question is, whether, in spite of that, we still do what we know we should not do and do not do what we know we should do," said Abdul Hamid.
Not a reward
He also welcomed suggestions to have a separate commission to appoint judges as it would help improve the public's perception of the judiciary.
However he said, the correct criteria must be used to choose the candidates.
"Judgeship is not a reward, not a semi-retirement, not a solution for a problem somewhere else. It is hard-work, honest hard-work," he added.
In this respect, he hoped that lawyers, political parties, the press and the public would also be honest in dealing with the courts.
Abdul Hamid also touched on issues such as the delegation of tasks - letting anyone other than the presiding judge write a judgement, "double presumptions", "cut-and-paste judgements, the new Arbitration Act 2005 and the role of the Syariah Advisory Committee in Islamic finance cases.
The highlight of the three-day conference, which kicked off today, is a four-cornered forum consisting the judiciary, the attorney-general, the police and the anti-corruption agency.
The purpose of the forum is to enable the four agencies to interact with each other in order to find solutions to problems plaguing the administration of criminal justice in the country.
Daripada Abu Umarah iaitu al-Bara' bin 'Azib radhiallahu anhuma, katanya: "Kita semua diperintah oleh Rasulullah s.a.w. untuk melakukan tujuh perkara, iaitu meninjau orang sakit, mengikuti janazah, menentasymitkan orang yang bersin, menolong orang yang lemah, membantu orang yang teraniaya, meratakan salam dan melaksanakan sumpah."