Speaker’s written request to court may give rise to unnecessary perception

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The Malaysian Bar views with concern the action of Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun to write to High Court Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah, requesting that Najib Razak’s trial be adjourned so that he could attend Parliament to debate the royal address.

Although the Speaker has defended the move by saying that he merely made a request and never instructed the trial judge, his action may give rise to unnecessary perception towards certain members of the House, particularly in light of the controversy surrounding his appointment.

As the Speaker rightfully pointed out, the powers of the Judiciary, Executive and Legislative are equal. The Speaker should have left it to the parties’ hands to seek the court’s indulgence to adjourn the matter instead of writing to the trial judge directly.

Does the Speaker’s written request in this instance mean that practising members of the Bar who are members of Parliament can now request the assistance of the Speaker to seek an adjournment of their court matters in order to attend parliamentary debates?

Salim Bashir is president of the Malaysian Bar

This piece dated 22 July 2020 is reproduced from here and has been edited for style only.

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