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  Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, 10th April 2008: 

Start the “judicial renaissance” by retiring judges guilty of misconduct as not delivering judgments, giving “cut-and-paste judgments” or delivering judgments written by others

Let the annual conference of judges this year, held after the March 8 “political tsunami”, be really different from the annual conferences of judges in the past two decades – when the judiciary except for a very brief period was smothered by a cloud of denial that it had increasingly lost national and international confidence in its independence, integrity and competence with one judicial crisis after another.

The most infamous Judges’ Conference was the one held in Kuching in March 1996 where the then Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah shocked Malaysians with the revelation of a 33-page poison-pen letter which made 112 allegations of corruption, abuses of power and misconduct against 12 judges, together with his directive to the police to launch investigations to “ferret out” and “bring to justice” the “conspirators” and “brutish beasts” so as to strike “at the venomous elements who are out to discredit the judiciary and subvert justice in our beloved country”.

Four months later, Mohtar Abdullah announced the close of the case when he revealed that a high court judge was the one behind the 33-page poison-pen letter against the judiciary and that the judge concerned had resigned.

The judge was then High Court Judge Datuk Syed Ahmad Idid Syed Abdullah Idid, who became a victim to a Malaysian system of justice which was completely bereft of the most rudimentary concept of justice.

Syed Ahmad Idid came out of the woodworks more than a decade later, to reveal that his allegations were never really investigated.

In contrast to the infamous 1996 Conference of Judges, let the 2008 Conference of Judges be remembered in history as one which marked the start of the judicial renaissance – the call of the Regent of Perak, Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah in his key-note opening address at the conference yesterday.

After two-decade “judicial darkness”, there are many things crying out to be done to start the “judicial renaissance”, in particular:

• A just and proper closure to the 1988 judicial crisis over the sacking of Tun Salleh Abas as Lord President and Datuk George Seah and the late Tan Sri Wan Sulaiman Pawanteh as Supreme Court judges;
• Constitutional amendment to restore the doctrine of the separation of powers by reinstating the inherent judicial powers of the judiciary as entrenched in the Merdeka Constitution but which taken away in a constitutional amendment in 1988.
• A Judicial Appointment and Promotions Commission;

There can be a faster start to the “judicial renaissance” with the retirement of judges guilty of misconduct such as not delivering judgments, giving “cut-and-paste judgments” or delivering judgments written by others.

This is a consensus which the ongoing Judges Conference can reach at the end of its three-day conference to demonstrate the commitment of the serving judges to a judicial renaissance as a direct result of the March 8 “political tsunami”, where Malaysians have spoken loud and clear for institutional reforms, including the judiciary.

* Lim Kit Siang, MP for Ipoh Timor & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman


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