by Lim Kit Siang on the Judicial Appointments
Commission (JAC) Bill in Dewan Rakyat on
Wednesday, 17th December 2008:
The JCA Bill cannot be supported and notice
given that if the third reform bill is the same as the Special
Complaints Commission Bill presented and withdrawn last December, and
not an IPCMC bill, we will have to vote against it
The year 2008 is coming to an end. I remember
that I had described 2007 as an “annus horribilis” in my 2008 New Year
message on 31st December last year.
Malaysians had heaved a sigh of relief at the end of 2007, a year which
had opened with such great promise as it was to celebrate the 50th
Merdeka anniversary of the nation.
But 2007 proved to be an “annus horribilis” (a horrible year) for
Despite the 50th Merdeka anniversary costing over RM100 million of
taxpayers’ money in public celebrations, 2007 proved to be one of the
most divisive and troubled year in the half-a-century of Malaysia’s
nationhood as well as one of great disappointment as the Prime Minister,
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi failed in his four-year report card to
fulfill the great pledges of reform for which he was given the landslide
historic 2004 general election victory in winning over 91 per cent of
the parliamentary seats.
The result is the March 8 political tsunami in the last general election
nine months ago and the belated promise by Abdullah to fulfill at least
three reform pledges before he steps down as Prime Minister in March.
Yesterday, DAP and Pakatan Rakyat MPs supported the passage of the
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Bill with great reservations
and considerable unhappiness, as nobody in government is really
convinced that when the bill is implemented, the MACC can rival the
Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of Hong Kong or Corrupt
Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) or that Malaysia will catapult to
be among the world’s ten or second least corrupt nations in the world
from the lowly 47th place in the 2008 Transparency International (TI)
Corruption Perception Index.
Today, we are debating the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) Bill,
representing the second of the three reform packages – but however much
we want to support long-overdue efforts to restore the independence,
impartiality and integrity of the judiciary, we do not find it possible
to support this second reform Bill as it fails to address the root
causes of the series of judicial crisis and scandals in the past two
The third “reform” legislation is to be tabled in Parliament next
February to fulfill Abdullah’s pledge to create an efficient,
incorruptible, professional, world-class police service for which the
Dzaiddin Royal Police Commission was formed and whose key proposal was
the establishment of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct
If the Billl to be tabled in February is the same as the Special
Complaints Commission Bill (SCC) which was tabled and withdrawn in
Parliament last December, where instead of an IPCMC “lion” with teeth
and claws, there is instead a toothless and clawless Special Complaints
Commission, I must give notice that we will have to reject the third
The JAC Bill before the House is totally unsatisfactory and unequal to
the task to restore national and international confidence in the
independence, impartiality and integrity of the Malaysian judiciary,
which was held in high international esteem two decades ago.
I do not want to repeat the many cogent reasons which had been advanced
by DAP and Pakatan Rakyat MPs in the debate why the Judicial
Appointments Commission as proposed by this Bill is completely
Just before this debate, I received the following SMS which emanated
from a judge – “whole of KL, shah alam, kelantan, terengganu, pahang
perils, johor not even one Chinese magistrate and sessions court judge.
Chinese officers all put in AG Chambers in law reform or drafting
division! Why like this?”
I leave it to the Minister to respond to this SMS complaint. I just want
to note in passing that for close to two-and-half years, there has been
no proper multi-racial representation in the Federal Court with not a
single Chinese Federal Court judge - which had never happened in
Malaysian judicial history before.
I had raised this issue in Parliament before and after the March general
election but it has still to be rectified.
The JAC Bill raises a hosts of questions and concerns, including the
strong objection that (i) the Prime Minister can disregard the
recommendations of the JAC; and (ii) the appointment procedure of judges
in the new bill violates the Federal Constitution, particularly with
regard to the appointment of judges for Sabah and Sarawak in Articles
122B and 161E(2).
Furthermore, why the JAC is not being created by way of constitutional
amendment so that they are given constitutional status and importance.
In fact, JAC Bill, if passed in its present form, risks being challenged
as to its constitutionality in the courts.
But the greatest objection to the JAC Bill is the failure to grasp this
golden opportunity to address the root causes of the loss of national
and international confidence in the independence, impartiality and
integrity of the judiciary in the last two decades.
I share the disappointment of the former United Nations Special
Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Dato’ Param
Cumarawamy with the JAC bill and who made two salient points:
• Without amending article 121 of the Constitution to restore the
doctrine of separation of powers and conferring the judicial power on
the courts, judicial independence cannot be secured by merely conferring
on the chief executive of the government the duty to uphold judicial
• The power of the Prime Minister to remove the eminent persons in the
Judicial Appointments Commission at any time without giving reasons
pursuant to clause 9(1) virtually gives legal legitimacy for executive
dominance over the judicial arm of the...
To be continued...
Kit Siang, DAP
Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor