Palace of Justice

Humble, unprecedented explanation by chief justice earns praise

Chief Justice Tan Sri Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat’s recent explanation on the distinct role of judges and the public prosecutor concerning the recent withdrawal of cases involving high-profile personalities has earned praise from senior members of the Malaysian Bar.

Senior lawyer Datuk Seri Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos said Tengku Maimun’s message was timely due to the “unfortunate politicisation on the use of prosecution in the media by irresponsible quarters”.

Speaking during the taking-of-oath of office and loyalty ceremony of Federal Court and Appeals Court judges and judicial commissioners last Friday, Tengku Maimun had said she found it “extremely disturbing” that the judiciary has of late been attacked only because the public prosecutor had exercised discretion under Article 145 (3) of the Federal Constitution to withdraw several high-profile cases.

She also said judges must be prepared to withstand public scrutiny and swallow unfair and baseless allegations against them if their decisions do not tally with public opinion.

“Apart from educating the public, the speech by the chief justice will also lift the morale of judges,” said Jahaberdeen.

“Judges cannot defend themselves in public, so the chief justice or her office speaking up will go a long way to make judges feel their boss is looking after them … I suppose this is only human,” he said.

As an officer of the court and member of the Bar, Jahaberdeen said he is mindful that it is the duty of every practising lawyer to also protect the integrity of the judiciary.

“The chief justice had asserted that justice must be done according to law and evidence and not based on popular public opinion.”

“I hope her speech has negated the perception of trial by netizens or media and she also sent out the message that judges are never under duress when it comes to deciding on cases that appear before them,” he added.

Another senior lawyer, Surjan Singh Sidhu, said Tengku Maimun’s speech was a “very humble” way of explaining legal matters not only to judges but also to the public.

“I doubt any other chief justice took such an approach. Despite her position in the judiciary, she has taken pains to tell the public how the legal process works,” he said.

“Such an approach should also be adopted by judges in their judgments to enlighten the public on why a certain decision was reached.

“Magistrates in the 60s and 70s used to say things as they were. Although some magistrates back then came from the ranks of interpreters and assistant district officers, they were experienced and knew how to handle matters well,” he said.

Last month, Twentytwo13 highlighted the withdrawal of court cases of public interest in recent times which had piqued interest on the functions and workings of two legal institutions – the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Judiciary.

Notable cases which have come under public scrutiny are:

  • The acquittal of former Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman involving corruption and money-laundering.
  • Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz, the stepson of Datuk Seri Najib Razak, given a discharge not amounting to acquittal on five counts of money-laundering charges involving US$248mil (RM1.25bil) linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd.
  • The discharge and acquittal in September 2018 of former Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng involving the conversion of land status and purchase of a bungalow below market price.

Here’s a round up of The News Normal today.

SCHOOL, CONTACT SPORTS RESUME

It’s back to school for Year Five and Six pupils. It’s also the day training for contact sports like football, rugby, hockey and martial arts resume.

There, however, seems to be hesitation by some who initially wanted schools to open and sports to resume. Hopefully, stakeholders will take all precautionary measures as Malaysians return to normalcy, albeit with strict standard operating procedures in place.

IT’S OKAY TO BE BLACK OR WHITE BUT NOT RUDE

The remark by Baling MP Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim on July 13 caused an uproar among his peers and Malaysians alike.

As the world watches the consequences of racial profiling, Malaysian parliamentarians continue to be insensitive and ignorant towards their peers. What more can be expected then from the ordinary Malaysian?

GETTING TOUGH ON DRUNK DRIVERS

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong revealed in Parliament that proposed amendments to address drunk driving will be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat soon.

This includes increasing prison sentences from 10 to 15 years for those causing death or injury and increasing fines to up to RM100,000.

The amendments will also see the permissible alcohol levels detected in drivers through breathalysers lowered, in line with World Health Organisation standards.

SEARCH IS ON FOR SOCIAL INNOVATORS

Applications for the 2021 Acumen Fellows Programme are now open. An affiliate programme of the global Acumen organisation, the Malaysian edition has 21 Fellows from its inaugural cohort working across seven states.

The programme is a unique leadership development opportunity that brings leaders from the public, private and social sectors together. Fellows go through an intense Year 1 which comprises four in-person seminars. In these seminars, Fellows dive deep into each other’s stories, beliefs and challenges.

“This programme is an investment into our common humanity in Malaysia, supporting leaders committed to lasting change across all communities. If you believe in upholding human dignity, we look forward to your application” said Datin Kathleen Chew, Programme Director of YTL Foundation which is the sponsor of the programme.

Click here for the application link. The deadline is on Aug 4.

RESORTS WORLD SENTOSA TO LAY OFF STAFF

Singapore’s biggest private-sector employer, Resorts World Sentosa will retrench staff as businesses continue to reel from the Covid-19 battering.

Owned by Genting Singapore, the resort has some 12,000 employees. The company has eliminated non-essential spending and cut the salaries of management by up to 30 per cent, and is now forced to lay off employees.

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