Excerpt: Opening address by Sultan Azlan Shah October 29, 2007Posted by elizabethwong in Current Affairs, Democracy, Human Rights, Malaysia, Note2Self, Politics.
Tags: Azlan Shah, Judiciary, Lingam-Fairuz tape
Sadly I must acknowledge there has been some disquiet about our judiciary over the past few years and in the more recent past. In 2004, I had stated that it grieved me, having been a member of the judiciary, whenever I heard allegations against the judiciary and the erosion of public confidence in the judiciary.
Recently there have been even more disturbing events relating to the judiciary reported in the press. We have also witnessed the unprecedented act of a former Court of Appeal judge writing in his post-retirement book of erroneous and questionable judgements delivered by our higher courts in a chapter under the heading “When Justice is Not Administered According to Law”. There are other serious criticisms.
I am driven nostalgically to look back to a time when our Judiciary was the pride of the region, and our neighbours spoke admiringly of our legal system. We were then second to none and the judgements of our courts were quoted confidently in other common law jurisdictions. As Tun Suffian, a former Lord President of the then Federal Court, said of the local judges who took over from the expatriate judges after Merdeka that the transformation was without “any reduction in standards”.
Admittedly society is more complex today and the task of judges may be more difficult then what it was before, but the values I speak of are universal and eternal.
There is no reason why judges with the assured security of tenure they enjoy under the Constitution should not discharge their duties impartially, confidently and competently.
Judges are called upon to be both independent and competent. In these days, judges must ever be mindful that the loss of independence can come from many sources, and not just from the executive. Therefore, judges must piously resist the lure of socializing with business personages and other well connected people. They may discover at their peril that they have compromised themselves in the cases that come before them with the unedifying spectacle of recusal applications.
Nothing destroys more the confidence the general public, or the business community has in the judiciary than the belief that the judge was biased when he decided a case, or that the judge would not be independent where powerful individuals or corporations are the litigants before him.
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