LETTER

Weve talked the walk, lets now walk the talk

Mohan Sankaran

Published
Modified 29 Jan 2008, 10:21 am

Year in year out we have been entertained by our press with news of corruption involving politicians and government officials embezzling the 'rakyat' money and the misuse and abuse of power by public officials for private gains, which is becoming rampant lately.

The recent auditor-general's (AG) report and the 'judicial fixing scandal' involving the chief justice, the most senior member of the judiciary, is of no different too. It seriously erodes the people's confidence in the independence and the integrity of our judiciary.

It is judicial misconduct of a very grave nature which warrants an immediate removal of the CJ and an investigation to be carried. The continuance silence from the CJ is unhealthy and it seriously compromises the integrity and independence of the judiciary as he had run foul of the oath of office taken by him upon his appointment.

The government, in its effort to damage control the situation, has agreed to set up an independent inquiry panel is something to welcome. In the past, the trend has been that issues of corruption, transparency, accountability, abuse of power and incompetence will go unaddressed under this administration. As such what we want to see is the seriousness of the government in combating corruption and installing public confidence. We don't want it to be like Chinese firecrackers where we will only get ashes from burning issues.

In the United Kingdom, the appointment and promotion of judges come under the purview of the Judicial Appointment Commission, which was established under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. This is to ensure that the selection of judges shall be based solely on merits and of good character and not through mere personal connections. It also means that their judiciary is capable of evolving to meet the changing needs of the society.

Therefore, what is wrong if we Malaysians demand the same since we have inherited the same legal system? We should also be ready to embrace reform and actively seek to improve our justice system. Thus, we believe that the time has come that the government seriously considers reviewing the current system for judicial appointments and promotions, which is at present wholly in the hands of politician and this has led to political cronyism in the selection process as in the case above.

An independent judiciary is one of the main pillars of a state governed by rule of law and for this reason, the appointment and promotion of judges should also be done by an independent body in order to ensure an accountable, transparent and meritorious appointment and promotion process. This will result in a fair and efficient administration of justice without partiality or prejudice.

So let's walk the talk and see some action and hope that it will not be another 'tutup satu mata' situation.

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