Chief justice, appeals court president, leave in dignity – or be dismissed disgracefully!

Raus and Zulkefli do not inspire confidence and they have overstayed their welcome; t is time for them to go, says P Ramakrishnan.

The controversy surrounding the extension of service and appointments of the chief justice and the appeals court president beyond their mandatory retirement age can only best be put to rest upon their voluntary resignations.

The former outgoing Chief Justice, Ariffin Zakaria, had on 1 April 2017 – no April Fool’s joke! – appointed Md Raus Sharif as Chief Justice and Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin as President of the Court of Appeal to continue in their positions upon their “mandatory” retirement on 3 August 2017 and 28 September 2017 respectively.

This appointments effectively allowed Raus to continue in service for another three years and Zulkefli to remain in his position for another two years – when there is absolutely no provision in the Federal Constitution for this extension.

Thus, it was deemed as unlawful and in violation of the Constitution for them to continue to serve in the judiciary. This is not the view of any Tom, Dick and Harry. The Bar Council and the Sarawak Bar have unanimously opposed their extensions beyond their mandatory retirement age as going against constitutional procedures and provisions.

The membership of just the Malaysian Bar alone constitutes more than 18,000 lawyers, not forgetting perhaps another 2,000 from the Sarawak Bar. It is the considered view of all these legal minds that both Raus and Zulkefli do not qualify to remain in service after their mandatory retirement age.

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Many Members of Parliament have roundly condemned their continued service in the judiciary when they should have compulsorily retired on 3 August 2017 (for Raus) and 28 September 2017 (for Zulkefli).

Their continued presence in the judiciary mars the lawfulness of our judiciary and erodes public confidence in the independence of our judicial system, one of the key elements in the concept of separation of powers that we Malaysians observe.

The judiciary is no longer “beyond reproach” like Caesar’s wife. It has been so tainted, so tarnished and so discredited that the immediate response to certain judgments delivered apparently used to be, “What do you expect? It’s their courts and their judges!”

How sad that they are no longer viewed as our courts, our esteemed national institution, our fountain of justice and our assurance of equality, liberty and fraternity, so to speak.

This may not be true at all times. There are still some well respected and highly considered judges who are a credit to the judiciary.

But Raus and Zulkefli do not seem to fall into this category – that is unfortunate. They do not inspire confidence and they have overstayed their welcome by all counts. It is time to go! The honourable thing to do is to resign in dignity and bow out gracefully. Otherwise, they have to be dismissed disgracefully.

The Pakatan Harapan MPs must move a substantive motion in Parliament in the July session under Article 127, which requires “not less than one quarter of the total number of members of that House”, to discuss the continued illegal presence of Raus and Zulkefli in the judiciary. Pakatan Harapan has more than double that number to initiate discussion on this issue.

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Let’s remember: “No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man’s permission when we ask him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right, not asked as a favour.”
~ Theodore Roosevelt

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