The Malaysian Bar welcomes the numerous and timely statements that have been reported in recent weeks, which counter the blinkered and prejudiced comments of certain individuals casting aspersions on the suitability of a number of recent appointments due to the racial identities and religious backgrounds of the appointees concerned, which may stoke disharmony.
The appointments are of the chief justice, attorney general, minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of legal affairs, and finance minister.
Most recently, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong urged that the unity and harmony of Malaysians be preserved and strengthened, and called for the eradication of negative elements and acts that disrupt or threaten unity and harmony. His Majesty made these remarks in a speech to both Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara during the official opening of the 14th Parliament on 17 July 2018.
The four appointments have been made in accordance with the Federal Constitution, and the racial identities and religious backgrounds of these four appointees are thus wholly irrelevant.
The appropriateness of the appointments must be based solely on whether they were made in compliance with the Federal Constitution and the laws of the nation, and on merit — including the integrity, abilities and competence of the individuals — as well as their commitment to abide by the Federal Constitution and to uphold the rule of law. The breadth and depth of their experience in the relevant fields speak for themselves.
The Malaysian Bar believes that our nation’s multiculturalism and its people’s respect for diversity are our strength. Malaysians of all backgrounds and identities must rise above extremist and divisive thinking and remarks that drive a wedge between Malaysians and polarise our society.
All Malaysians must join hands and together strive to build a peaceful, harmonious and just nation.
Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor is vice-president of the Malaysian Bar.