PETALING JAYA: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has urged Putrajaya to set up a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) to look into allegations of judicial misconduct as contained in an affidavit affirmed by a judge.
It said the then Pakatan Harapan government had announced in February 2019 that it would establish a tribunal but to date, “there seems to be no further developments on the matter”.
In a statement today, Suhakam said the judiciary is an independent branch of the government under the Federal Constitution.
“The establishment of an RCI will open an inquiry process and demonstrate the judiciary’s commitment to conduct a thorough and impartial inquiry, ultimately strengthening the public’s trust and confidence in Malaysia’s justice system,” it said.
Its stand comes in the wake of a High Court decision to dismiss Court of Appeal Judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer’s stay of proceedings before the Judges’ Ethics Committee.
Hamid will most likely appear before the committee tomorrow afternoon to answer queries pertaining to the explosive affidavit and a judgment he delivered in June.
On Jan 21, High Court Judge Mariana Yahya dismissed Hamid’s leave application for judicial review on the affidavit and the judgment.
She also allowed the committee’s application to strike out Hamid’s originating summons, which is closely tied to the remedy sought in the judicial review application.
In the judicial review matter, Hamid wants a declaration that the in-camera proceeding is against the rules of natural justice, irrational and unconstitutional.
He also wants a declaration that the committee, chaired by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, acted unconstitutionally in framing charges against him and that the charges should be declared null and void.
As for the originating summons, Hamid is seeking a direction in relation to the affidavit and judgment he delivered in a criminal appeal case.
Hamid, who is scheduled to retire this year, posed a question on whether the judgment he delivered could be subjected to an investigation by the committee.
He also asked whether the affidavit he affirmed in 2019 in support of a suit filed by lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo could be subject to scrutiny by the committee.
Three years ago, Hamid alleged there had been judicial interference in several high-profile cases. Sangeet then filed a suit against the chief justice early in 2019, accusing the top judge of failing to defend and preserve the integrity of the judiciary.
In August, FMT reported that the committee had issued Hamid a show cause notice over the affidavit and judgment.
Hamid, among other things, had said in the judgment that the judiciary was expected to act as a check and balance on the executive and legislature, as provided for under the constitution.
Former attorney-general Tommy Thomas, in his memoir “My Story: Justice in The Wilderness”, said then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad informed him that feedback revealed that an RCI was not welcome by numerous judges, both serving and retired.
“Tun (Mahathir), therefore, stated I should leave the matter with him, which I did. Unfortunately, it was one of the issues that was pushed to the background, and never acted upon.” Thomas said.
Published at Tue, 02 Feb 2021 18:49:44 +0000