The video of Chief Justice Richard Malanjum and attorney-general Tommy Thomas dancing together with the executive is bad for the perception of judicial independence, said lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla.
Haniff said this is because their dancing with de facto Law Minister Liew Vui Keong could create the perception that separation of powers between the judiciary, the attorney-general, and the executive had been compromised.
"Personally I think that in this era of New Malaysia, the public has a right to hope that the rule of law and the principles of separation of powers is always protected and actions such as that shown in the (dancing) video should not happen.
"This is to avoid any risk, which can cause the judiciary and the (attorney-general) to fail to protect the rule of law and separation of powers," Haniff said in a statement tonight.
Malanjum, Thomas, and Liew were dancing to the 1960s tune of “Let's Twist Again” by American rock 'n' roll singer Chubby Checker during the Opening of Legal Year gala dinner 2019 in Kota Kinabalu yesterday.
Haniff had previously chastised former attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali for dancing with BN ministers during the 2016 national Merdeka Day celebrations.
The lawyer, who has served as a counsel for Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, said today that the video of Malanjum, Thomas, and Liew dancing together would have been a rude shock to the public, most of whom would not be aware of such legal fraternity events.
As such, he said the trio must ask themselves whether their actions had created a negative perception about the separation of powers.
If they answered the question in the affirmative, then Haniff said that he trusted the trio to take the necessary steps to restore public confidence in them.
Event organiser Sabah Law Society defended Malanjum, Thomas, and Liew, saying that they were able to keep their personal and professional lives separate.
Eric Paulsen, the Malaysian representative to the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), also defended the trio.
"This was an official gala dinner event involving the legal fraternity. They are expected to chat and mingle, or dance if they want to. If there's anything to fault, it's the poor choice of music," Paulsen tweeted.
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