THE JOURNAL consists of selected, most notable and newsworthy POSTINGS OF THE DAY.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

5. Stop the Rot

Two former United Nations' officials urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to act firmly to stop the rot and further destruction of judicial independence.

Former UN special adviser to UN Secretary-General on Ethics Tunku Abdul Aziz and former UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Datuk Param Cumaraswamy say the video clip showing a named lawyer discussing over the handphone how he is influencing judicial appointments should be treated seriously.

"We urge the Prime Minister to present to his Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to set up a tribunal for the removal any judge found guilty of gross misconduct and abuse of power. In the mean time, suspect or suspects must be suspended from office," they said in a joint-statement.

Abdul Aziz and Param, both past presidents of Transparency International Malaysia, said in a press conference that they had also handed over a letter, containing further allegations against a judge, to the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA).

Param said the three-page anonymous letter, written in English, but in crude and intemperate language, was received by him three to four days prior to July 20.

Param said he had written to the judge on July 20, and also attached a copy of the anonymous letter containing the allegations, but there was no response.

Among the several allegations in the anonymous letter was judges had discussed a recent decision in a suit involving a named lawyer featured in the video recording.

Param said the judgment eventually was delivered in favour of the named lawyer.

Abdul Aziz and Param also urged the Bar Council to act swiftly and institute disciplinary proceedings against the named lawyer under Section 88A of the Legal Profession Act and suspend him from practice until the disposal of the disciplinary process.

They said it was not the first time the named lawyer has been seen "unusually friendly" with the named judge.

They said the Federal Constitution should be amended to provide for an independent judicial commission for selection and recommendation of judicial appointments, promotions and to deal with receiving and investigating complaints against judges.

"We acknowledge that there are some fine judges of integrity within the system. We urge them to remain steadfast and uphold their oath of office amidst the present crisis of confidence in the system," they said.

Abdul Aziz said it would send a "terribly wrong signal" not only to the nation but also internationally, if the government did not act - The Sun (Earlier Edition).