Malaysiakini Letter

Dire need for integrity in the Malaysian judiciary

M Santhananaban  |  Published:  |  Modified:


LETTER | A sitting senior Court of Appeal judge has made some startling and serious allegations about malpractices and misconduct within the judiciary. He has also called for a RCI to inquire into these matters.

I am, like most Malaysians, not at all surprised to learn about these scandalous allegations.

For more than a decade until May 10, 2018 when a new government began taking office our country was enveloped in some state of fear.

Dr Mahathir has himself acknowledged at his Oxford meeting that the office of the prime minister had assumed such a magnitude of power that there is currently a review to see how these powers can be shared with Parliament.

In any dispute however the Judiciary is the ultimate arbiter. 

As the country takes steps to fully implement the rule of law with added significance apportioned to the principle of separation of powers, our Judiciary has to filled with people of calibre, the highest integrity and courage. And adequate constitutional powers of course.

The retirement age should also be raised to 72, given our longer life expectancy and to discourage our retiring judges from seeking post retirement chairmanships in GLCs and private companies.

To the Court of Appeal Judge who has spoken out I would say “congratulations!” and would also salute him for his courage. The State is obliged to protect him.

It is important to reiterate the principle that the dictum of the law should remain supreme, not the dictates of the leadership of any institution.

It is my view that bribery, chicanery and flattery are greater assets in certain flawed systems of governance, quasi feudal setups and some current administrative hierarchies. People who shrewdly practise these dark arts can sometimes be a lot more successful than those who are competent, hardworking, honest, candid, have high integrity and moral courage.

There are also officers who operate not by disagreeing or seeking clarification about new ideas and proposals but by going to the higher-ups in the system and confidently whispering that the powerful political warlords won’t have this or that.

I think one major weakness in our system of governance is the rush to reward officers and the slowness in meting out the mildest of penalties and punishment.

Perhaps the heads of our Judiciary should be considered for the highest honours in the third year of service in the highest judicial office rather than at the beginning of their tenure.


M Santhananaban is a retired ambassador.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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