Haris Ibrahim of The People’s Parliament started the ball rolling for this petition quite some time ago. RPK promoted it. Currently ithe petition received 14109 signatures.
Although I admit a certain amount of skepticism over the Sultan’s ability to actually make it happen, I realized that the true worth of a signed petition is not in its influence to make one person, one man to do something for you. It is the sheer numbers of those who signed it. It’s perfectly common and relatively harmless to complain at a mamak stall, but when you pool all those voices together in a signed petition, it amounts to something that’s important and no one can ignore.
They can’t possibly off the whole lot of us, y’know. Please sign here. Contents of the petition is republished below;
Explanatory note : The petition displayed here does not include the requisite court language befitting the presentation of the people’s appeal to His Majesty, the Duli Yang Maha Mulia Yang DiPertuan Agong.This will be undertaken by a specialist at a later date for the final document to be presented to His Majesty.
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On 18th April, 2008, the Prime Minister, Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, gave the following commitment to the rakyat :
‘…No nation can call itself fair and just without an efficient and trusted judiciary. By “trusted”, I mean a judiciary that delivers justice and is seen to deliver justice…the fact is, we can no longer leave such an important institution to hope and chance. The system must have built-in safeguards to prevent potential abuse and it must have a process that will convincingly identify the best legal minds in the country to join the judiciary…Therefore, the Government proposes a change to make the process of nominating, appointing and promoting judges more transparent and representative…’
At pages 174 and 175 of its report presented to Your Majesty on 9th May, 2008, the Royal Commission of Inquiry mandated to look into the matter of the VK Lingam video, in recommending the formation of a Judicial Appointments Commission, observed as follows:
‘…there is cause for concern about how judges in the upper echelons of the judiciary were appointed and the selection criteria employed. More specifically the evidence has disclosed inherent flaws and weaknesses regarding the process of appointment and promotion of High Court judges as well as the Chief Judge Malaya, President Court of Appeal and the Chief Justice of the Federal Court…Having heard the evidence presented to the Commission in relation to the video clip it would seem clear that the appointment and promotion of judges of the higher judiciary is open to interference and manipulation by the Executive and other extrinsic forces including private citizens…the inherent weaknesses in the process of appointment of judges and its vulnerability to interference and manipulation could result in extreme damage to the independence of the judiciary in particular and to the country in general’.
We, the rakyat, have been very anxious that the requisite reforms to the Judiciary be given effect to so as to restore the same as a truly independent arm of government, free from any sort of interference from Executive so that the former could perform its constitutional role as the defender of the rakyat. We were as such gratified with the media reports that the Law Minister, Dato Zaid Ibrahim, was treating the matter of the establishment of a Judicial Appointments Commission as a matter of priority.
We, the rakyat, are now gravely disappointed with recent media reports that several Cabinet ministers, notably from UMNO, have rejected the proposal by the Law Minister for the establishment of the Judicial Appointments Commission and that the Law Minister had recently confirmed that there would now not be sufficient time during the present sitting of Parliament to table a bill for the purposes of establishing the Judicial Appointments Commission.
We, the rakyat, also note and endorse the concerns of the Law Minister that the appointment to the post of Chief Justice, which falls vacant on 18th October, 2008 upon the retirement of the present Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad, should ideally be done as transparently as might have been had the Judicial Appointments Commission been set up and entrusted with that task.
We, the rakyat, note that in September last year, the Prime Minister had recommended and Your Majesty had consented to the appointment of Tan Sri Dato’ Zaki Tun Azmi directly to the Federal Court, by-passing several senior judges of the Court of Appeal.
Then in December last year, whilst Tan Sri Dato’ Zaki had barely completed three months into his appointment as a judge of the Federal Court, the Prime Minister had again recommended and Your Majesty had consented to the appointment of Tan Sri Dato’ Zaki to the position of President of the Court of Appeal, this time bypassing several far more senior judges of the Federal Court.
We, the rakyat, note with concern that the rapid rise of Tan Sri Dato’ Zaki through the judiciary, inexplicably over the heads of many more senior members, is reminiscent of the episode in which Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim bypassed the more senior late Tan Sri Malek Ahmed to the position of President of the Court of Appeal, an episode that became the subject-matter of scrutiny by the Royal Commission of Inquiry earlier this year.
We, the rakyat, also note with concern the following of and concerning Tan Sri Dato’ Zaki :
1.Tan Sri Dato’ Zaki is the most junior judge amongst all judges of the High
Courts, the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court;
2.Tan Sri Dato’ Zaki is the most junior amongst the 8 Federal Court judges,
and his selection as President of the Court of Appeal would most unfairly
have raised questions about the competence of the other 7 very much more
senior judges of the Federal Court ;
3.Tan Sri Dato’ Zaki has been very intimately involved in UMNO, having at
one time held the position of chairman of the party’s election committee,
deputy chairman of its disciplinary board of appeal and party legal
adviser. It is unclear if he is still a card carrying member of UMNO or if
he has ceased to be one, when he ceased to be one;
4.Tan Sri Dato’ Zaki has been linked to financial scandals involving UMNO
that were allegedly bailed out by the government;
5.Tan Sri Dato’ Zaki has been very intimately involved in the corporate
world as a major shareholder and / or director in several corporate
entities, many of which were known to have business dealings with the
6.Tan Sri Dato’ Zaki had previously been embroiled in a personal scandal that
implicated him in the destruction of documentary evidence, thus laying him
open to questions of his integrity.
We, the rakyat, in writing to Your Majesty now, are guided by the following wise words of HRH Raja Nazrin Shah on 9th April, 2008 :
‘We are now at a critical time in our nation’s history, one where the institutions of state – indeed, the foundations of our democracy – which we have built up since Independence, are under scrutiny. The just concluded 12th General Elections has ushered in a host of changes. Among other things, it has introduced a greater degree of contestation in policy-making, legislation and administration than many would previously have thought possible. Some of these changes may be transient. Others could well be permanent. Whatever the case, the new political realities have proven to be and will continue to be challenging. They send a clear message that we cannot continue on a course of ‘business-as-usual’. It goes without saying that recent revelations of improprieties in the judiciary have been extremely damaging, not least by eroding the public’s image of, and confidence in, the system of justice in this country. We must be committed to working through our current problems and to emerge the stronger and better for them. In order to do so, we must be prepared to deal with the facts as they are, and not as we would like them to be. In this respect, it is most encouraging that YAA Dato’ Abdul Hamid has himself set the tone for us in his appointment speech in December last year. In that speech, which has been described as “a breath of fresh air”, he openly addressed concerns about the impartiality of judicial decisions, the appointment and promotion of judges, and their commitment to carrying out their work. He wisely pointed out that whether or not these perceptions were founded was immaterial. The mere fact that they exist is enough to do damage and warrant firm action’.
Given that it is unlikely that the Judicial Appointments Commission would have been set up by the time the present Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad retires on 18th October, 2008, it is almost a foregone conclusion that the proposed new Chief Justice will be recommended by the Prime Minister to Your Majesty for Your Majesty’s consent, without the attendant transparent procedures that the anticipated Judicial Appointments Commission would have introduced.
We, the rakyat, again guided by the recent wise words of HRH Raja Nazrin Shah, that when the advice given to the Malay Rulers contradicts the spirit of the constitution, sanctity of the law and the basic principle of justice, the Malay Rulers should not feel pressured to give their assent and that the constitutional monarch system involves a sharing of power between the Rulers and the people and the Rulers are often the “source of reference” whenever there was a crisis among the rakyat, now pray that Your Majesty may be so moved, with a view to begin the process of restoring the confidence of the rakyat in the Judiciary :
1.to require that the senior most judge of the Federal Court, such seniority
measured by the years of service in the apex court, be appointed as the
next Chief Justice upon the retirement of the present Chief Justice Tun
Abdul Hamid Mohamad retires on 18th October, 2008; and
2.pending the establishment of the Judicial Appointments Commission, to
require that promotions to the Court of Appeal and to the Federal Court
shall be from the senior most judges of the High Courts and Court of Appeal
respectively. Again, seniority must be assessed by the years of service in
the High Courts and Court of Appeal respectively.