Hornbill Unleashed

August 2, 2017

Malaysian Bar to debate two motions following CJ, COA president’s extension

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:01 AM

The Malaysian Bar will be debating two motions during its extraordinary general meeting (EGM) this Thursday, following the government’s decision to extend the tenure of the country’s chief justice and the Court of Appeal president.

A motion on “upholding the supremacy of the Federal Constitution and defending the independence and integrity of the judiciary” was proposed by Malaysian Bar president George Varughese while lawyers Charles Hector, Francis Pereira and R Shanmugam proposed the motion on “protecting judicial independence in Malaysia and ensure all safeguards, especially security of tenure remain strong and uncompromised”.

The EGM will be held from 4pm onwards at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH), while the quorum for the EGM would be 500 members of the Bar.

The EGM would be dissolved if the quorum is not met by 5pm, Bar secretary Roger Chan said in a circular dated July 26.

Varughese last month announced that the Bar will convene the EGM to address what it described as the “blatantly unconstitutional” appointments of Chief Justice Md Raus Sharif and Court of Appeal president Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin as additional judges.

Varughese, who proposed the first motion, cited Article 125(1) of the constitution which stipulates that “a judge of the federal court shall hold office until he attains the age of sixty-six years or such later time, not being later than six months after he attains that age, as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may approve”.

“There is no provision in the Federal Constitution, and it is thus unconstitutional, for a serving chief justice or a serving president of the court of appeal to continue to hold the positions of chief justice and president of the Court of Appeal beyond the prescribed age limit of 66 years and six months.”

Among others, the Bar resolves:

That the appointment of Md Raus purportedly as an additional judge, and to continue to hold the position of chief justice beyond the age limit of 66 years and six months as prescribed in the Federal Constitution, is unconstitutional, null and void;

That the appointment of Zulkefli purportedly as an additional judge, and to continue to hold the position of president of the court of appeal beyond the age limit of 66 years and six months as prescribed in the Federal Constitution, is unconstitutional, null and void.

Calling both of them to decline the appointments, Varughese in his proposal said that the Bar will no longer have confidence in the two continuing to hold their respective offices if they fail to do so.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) last month announced that with Md Raus and Zulkefli’s appointment as additional judges, they will retain their existing offices for another three and two years respectively.

The PMO said the appointment of Md Raus and Zulkefli was based on the recommendation of then chief justice Arifin Zakaria who retired on March 31.

However, critics have also questioned whether Arifin had the authority to recommend additional judges for periods that had past his retirement.

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