Zaki’s appointment: No saving grace for the judiciary

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Tan Sri Zaki Azmi’s appointment as
Court of Appeal president was no surprise. It was predictable from
the time he was catapulted into the Federal Court, making him the
most junior Federal Court judge. Elevating the most junior Federal
Court judge to the post of president of the Court of Appeal is
unprecedented in our judicial history. But that did not seem to
bother the Prime Minister. Neither was he perturbed by the negative
comments following Zaki’s appointment to the Federal Court.


Aliran is indeed shocked that a person
who is so junior in rank with nothing outstanding about him should
now outrank all the senior, serving judges, some of whom are most deserving of this exalted position. It is very disturbing that
Zaki is set to become the next Chief Justice of Malaysia within a
year.

Is the PM telling the entire nation
that there are no other judges in terms of seniority, experience,
diligence and integrity on the Bench for consideration for this top
post? It would be laughable if some one were to answer “Yes” to
this question. 


The battered image of the judiciary
will not be improved by this shocking appointment that goes against
the grain of public opinion. It is a pity that good sense failed to
prevail. 

When the judiciary is down in the
depths of public opinion, it is a terrible mistake to parachute
someone who was so closely associated with Umno to succeed to the top
position. This appointment apparently smacks of political
intervention to safeguard the interests of the executive rather than
to protect the integrity of the judiciary. It is no wonder that many
eye-brows were raised when the announcement was made public.

It has without a doubt embarrassed some
of the most senior and capable judges who have been by-passed so
unceremoniously. These judges are known for their impeccable
character and integrity with a track record that speaks volumes for
their diligence and commitment to the judiciary. They must surely be feeling shattered and who can blame them. This is something
that will further cast doubt on the independence of the judiciary
at a time when it is already in the doldrums following the scandalous
expose of the Lingam tape. 

The ordinary person in the street must
inevitably conclude that there is no saving grace for the judiciary.

P Ramakrishnan

READ MORE:  Set up royal commission of inquiry into judiciary without further delay

President

7 December 2007

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