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  Media Statement (3) by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Wednesday, 6th February 2008: 

Six-month extension of Abdul Hamid�s  tenure as CJ the only bright spark in desolate  wasteland of judiciary highlighted by three weeks of public hearing of  RCI on Lingam Tape

The report of the expected six-month extension of Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohamad�s tenure as Chief Justice from April 18 to Oct 17 this year is the only bright spark in a desolate wasteland of the judiciary highlighted by three weeks of public hearing of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam Tape. 

After  the three-week public hearing of the RCI into the Lingam Tape, the integrity, honour and reputation of the previous four highest judicial officers of the land �  the occupant of the office of Chief Justice  previously known as  Lord President � spanning two decades had been dragged through the mud. 

Nobody would dared imagine just one month ago that national and international confidence in the judiciary, which has reached unprecedented  lows in the past two decades, could plumb new depths � but this is what happened since the RCI public hearing on 14th January 2008. 

Last Thursday, a glowing tribute was rightly given to the former  Court of Appeal President, Tan Sri Abdul Malek Ahmad by retired Court of Appeal judge K. C. Vohrah who said: �He was the chief justice that the country should have, but never had�. 

Unfortunately, there are more than two persons whom Malaysians could rightly point to and say: �He was the chief justice that the country should not have, but had.� 

It is most fortunate that Abdul Hamid is now the Chief Justice as he could hold his head high as the highest judicial officer of the land despite the judicial mud exposed to public light in the past three weeks. 

The very fact that the current chief justice  Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohamad is neither a �Tan Sri� nor �Tun� is the best illustration that he is an �accidental Chief Justice�, not because he lacks merit, capability and temperament to be Chief Justice, but because  the powers-that-be who acted unconstitutionally in deciding the highest judicial appointments never intended him to be Chief Justice. 

It is an indictment on the national integrity and the system of governance in Malaysia that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the Cabinet cannot  shake off their denial complex that something very wrong and rotten had afflicted the judiciary system in the past two decades and to admit the urgent need for root-and-branch judicial reform.

The Chief Secretary Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan has recently been dragooned to become the  Chief Propagandist of the Barisan Nasional in the run-up to the next general election � about the efficiency of the public service delivery system. 

One of the things Mohd Sidek had been boasting is on �ethnic diversity in government� � that �it doesn�t matter if its all women or Indian or Chinese. We go for the best.� 

Can Mohd Sidek or the Prime Minister explain why for the first time in the nation�s 50 year history, there is not a single Chinese on the Federal Court for the past 20 months? 

The last Federal Court Judge vacancy should have been filled by a qualified Malaysian Chinese to maintain  a fully multi-racial Federal Court but this was not done. Instead, the vacancy went to Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi, so that he could become the first Umno Chief Justice in Malaysian history! 

Zaki  took a triple jump  last September to  become Federal Court judge without ever being High Court or Court of Appeal judge � followed shortly after with a quadruple jump up the judicial hierarchy to become Court of Appeal President. 

Can the Prime Minister or the Chief Secretary justify Zaki�s appointment as in accordance  with best international practices of an efficient,  accountable and world-class public service delivery system?

* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman


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