At Bar EGM, calls for Chief Justice to turn down extension
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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 3 — The Malaysian Bar is set to discuss proposed resolutions to urge the Chief Justice and Court of Appeal President to turn down allegedly unconstitutional extensions of their term past their mandatory retirement age.
Two motions will be raised at the Malaysian Bar’s extraordinary general meeting (EGM) today in a bid by lawyers to prevent an “erosion of public confidence in the judiciary” and yet another “judicial crisis”.
The first motion is proposed by Bar Council chairman George Varughese and titled “Motion on Upholding the Supremacy of the Federal Constitution and Defending the Independence and Integrity of the Judiciary”.
In the motion papers sighted by Malay Mail Online, George proposed for the Malaysian Bar — which represents all lawyers in Peninsular Malaysia — to resolve that the appointment of both Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif and Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin as additional judges and their continuation as Chief Justice and President of the Court of Appeal respectively are “unconstitutional, null and void”.
George also proposed that the Malaysian Bar resolve to urge both Md Raus and Zulkefli to reject their appointments and to retire today and on September 27 respectively.
He further proposed for the Malaysian Bar to resolve that it would have no confidence in the duo if they fail to turn down the appointments and remain in the judiciary beyond the constitutional age limit of 66 years and six months.
He also proposed that the two should not preside over any case or exercise any judicial or administrative powers attached to their positions — including selecting any court panels to hear any court cases — if they do not retire when they hit the constitutional age limit.
He also proposed that the Malaysian Bar resolve for the Bar Council to be given the mandate “to take any and all steps that it deems appropriate regarding the aforesaid unconstitutional appointments, and to give effect to the resolutions above.”
In the second motion proposed by lawyers Charles Hector, Francis Pereira and Shanmugam Ramasamy, the trio similarly proposed the Malaysian Bar to resolve to call on Md Raus and Zulkefli to turn down the appointments and any further extensions of their terms as Chief Justice and President of the Court of Appeal beyond their retirement dates.
“They must do what is right to prevent tarnishing the image and public confidence in an Independent Malaysian Judiciary,” the trio said.
They also urged for the Malaysian Bar to resolve to call for the Federal Constitution to be amended to ensure the security of tenure of judges would not be compromised or undermined, stressing that no judge should continue to serve beyond the current retirement age of 66 years old.
They proposed for the Malaysian Bar to resolve for the Bar Council to be empowered to “do all that is necessary to protect the independence of the judiciary, and especially prevent the weakening of security of tenure as a necessary safeguard”.
They also proposed for the Malaysian Bar to resolve to note its appreciation for the services rendered and the integrity of Md Raus and Zulkefli and to wish both all the best on their retirement on August 3 and September 27.
The EGM may only be held if a quorum of 500 is achieved. A source told Malay Mail Online that quorum was achieved at just before 4.30pm with 870 members turning up, while the presidents of the Advocates Association of Sarawak and the Sabah Law Society were present as observers.
The Prime Minister’s Office’s announcement on July 7 of the appointment of the duo as additional judges and which would effectively extend their terms as two of the country’s most powerful judges has met with protests from the legal community.
In the July 7 statement, Md Raus is to continue serving as an additional judge in the Federal Court and as Chief Justice of the Federal Court for another three years from August 4, while Zulkefli is to continue serving as an additional judge in the same court and as President of the Court of Appeal for another two years from September 28.