The Malaysian Bar views with great concern the considerable amount of time that the government seems to be taking to set up the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) to investigate the grave allegations of judicial interference and judicial misconduct.
Fifty-three days have passed since 21 February 2019, when Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, first announced that the government would form an RCI to look into the allegations.
Since then, there has been (to our knowledge) no news regarding the implementation of that decision. The RCI’s composition and terms of reference have yet to be announced.
The Malaysian Bar has repeatedly called for the establishment of the RCI since August 2018, when the allegations of judicial impropriety first surfaced during Justice Hamid Sultan Abu Backer’s presentation as a panel member at the Malaysian Bar’s International Malaysia Law Conference 2018. A member of the Malaysian Bar subsequently made further allegations.
We reiterate our call to the government to act decisively to establish the RCI, without delay – to not only investigate the serious assertions of judicial misconduct but also to recommend holistic and comprehensive reforms to improve and strengthen the institution of the judiciary.
A thorough and immediate investigation needs to be undertaken to ascertain the facts and the extent of any interference in the ability of judges to make impartial decisions – as well as to put in place measures to ensure that no manner of coercion, influence or threat is ever brought to bear on any judge.
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 instilling public confidence. It must not be allowed to be tarnished. A fair and effective administration of justice — and unshakeable public confidence in the dispensation of justice — depends on it.
The Malaysian Bar strongly urges the government to set up the RCI without further delay.
Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor is president of the Malaysian Bar.
This piece, written on 15 April 2019, is reproduced from here and has been edited for style only.