Royal commission provides opportunity for thorough reform of judiciary

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The Palace of Justice in Putrajaya - Photograph: Ezry Abdul Rahman from Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Malaysian Bar commends the government’s prompt decision to form a royal commission of inquiry to investigate the allegations of judicial interference and judicial misconduct made by Justice Hamid Sultan Abu Backer, a Court of Appeal judge.

The Malaysian Bar has repeatedly called for the establishment of such a royal commission since August 2018, when the allegations first surfaced during Justice Hamid Sultan’s presentation at the Malaysian Bar’s International Malaysia Law Conference 2018.

We reiterate our call to the government to expand the terms of reference of the royal commission to include recommending holistic proposals for thorough and comprehensive reforms to improve and strengthen the institution of the judiciary, in addition to addressing all the allegations of judicial misconduct. This royal commission provides a significant and crucial opportunity that the government must seize.

We are confident that the members of the royal commission (who have not yet been announced) will execute their exceedingly important work with the greatest dedication and integrity, leaving no stone unturned in their quest for the truth and proposals for reform.

The Malaysian Bar is mindful that the sanctity of the independence and integrity of the judiciary is essential and of the utmost importance for upholding the rule of law and for instilling public confidence, and must not be allowed to be tarnished.

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We therefore urge all parties to demonstrate respect and support for the royal commission and the weighty mandate entrusted to it, by refraining from speculating or making adverse comments on the allegations made by Justice Hamid Sultan, until the royal commission concludes its investigation and its findings are revealed.

The Malaysian Bar stands ready to assist the royal commission and will, to this end, make available all the expertise and resources we can muster.

George Varughese is president of the Malaysian Bar.

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