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Ahmad Fairuz may have to step down as Chief Justice for tarnishing the image of the judiciary if he is not prepared to take action and substantiate his grave charges of judges accepting bribes or guilty of misconduct in acting unethically in socializing with parties while hearing their cases
(Petaling Jaya, Saturday) : The Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim dropped a bombshell at the swearing-in ceremony of eight new judicial commissioners in Putrajaya on Thursday when he exposed gross judicial misconduct in the judiciary, including:
Ahmad Fairuz may have to step down as Chief Justice for tarnishing the image of the judiciary if he is not prepared to take action and substantiate his grave charges of judges accepting bribes or guilty of misconduct in acting unethically in socializing with parties while hearing their cases.
The Chief Justice had used the plural when he “hit out at judges who accept bribes” (The Star 2.3.07). Had he initiated action against “judges who accept bribes” under Article 124 of the Federal Constitution for the establishment of the judicial tribunal to remove these “rogue judges” or at least lodged police reports against them for full investigations to be started?
If Ahmad Fairuz had not initiated any action against “judges who accept bribes”, then the Chief Justice would be guilty of being a party to the commission of serious crimes which would not be compatible with his continued tenure as the highest judicial officer of the land. If he could not substantiate his allegation of judges accepting bribes, then he had made a most reckless and irresponsible statement seriously tarnishing the image of the judiciary.
Furthermore, what action had Ahmad Fairuz taken against judges for the judicial misconduct and unethical behaviour of “often seen socializing with lawyers, prosecutors and corporate figures” while hearing their cases in court or for “being constantly angry and bad-tempered”.
Ahmad Fairuz had mentioned another form of judicial misbehaviourr – those “who portrayed themselves as being the most brilliant or perfect judge in court”.
I do not know whether judges “who portrayed themselves as being the most brilliant or perfect judge in court” are guilty of judicial misconduct or misdemeanour and I do not know who are the judges the Chief Justice is referring to, although one name I can guess will be above the High Court level.
Ahmad Fairuz’ outburst have brought to the fore the Judges’ Code of Ethics and the public undertaking he had made on his appointment as Chief Justice some four years ago in 2003 to recast the Judges’ Code of Ethics to restore public confidence in judicial independence, impartiality and integrity.
The Judges’ Code of Ethics was promulgated in 1994 to establish standards for ethical conduct of judges and enhance public confidence in an independent, fair and competent judiciary to deliver justice to all Malaysians, but the chief wrecker of the 1994 Judges’ Code of Ethics was none other than its author, the then Chief Justice, Tun Eusoff Chin, who violated and discredited the Code of Ethics by his own judicial misconduct and impropriety, to the extent that he left the high judicial office in disgrace.
Almost four years have passed, but nothing has been heard of the recast Judges’ Code of Ethics.
I had in May 2003 called on the Chief Justice to initiate a nation-wide debate as to why the Judges’ Code of Ethics had failed in the previous nine years to enhance public confidence in the independence, fairness and competence of the system of justice in Malaysia and how it could be revamped.
In keeping with the principle of public accountability of the judiciary, I had also asked that Malaysians be told as to how the Code of Ethics had worked or failed to work in the previous nine years, how many complaints had been received each year under the Code of Ethics, the number of judges who had been investigated and the outcome of such investigations.
The Judges’ Code of Ethics suffer from three major defects:
Has the Chief Justice been guilty of dereliction of duty in failing to honour his commitment to recast the Judges’ Code of Ethics to fully restore public confidence in the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary?
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman