..The reputation of Malaysia’s judiciary has suffered from a series of scandals including a secretly taped video showing a lawyer allegedly brokering the appointment of senior judge in a telephone conversation with someone who was later appointed the chief justice.
At present the prime minister appoints the judges at his discretion without the need to justify his choice or consult others. The recent appointment of a former ruling party lawyer as the chief justice has also triggered opposition criticism about the independence of the judiciary.
The Judicial Appointments Commission calls for setting up a nine-member panel of judicial and nonjudicial persons who would recommend to the prime minister a set of names for the job of senior judges.
However, the prime minister has the prerogative to reject the recommendations and ask for fresh names until he picks one that he thinks is a suitable candidate.
Abdullah said the judicial commission will lend “more transparency” to the system, insisting that no prime minister would misuse his power.
“I am sure the prime minister will not do anything that will ultimately put him in bad light. His reputation will be at stake,” he said.
Opposition leaders say the country cannot rely solely on the prime minister’s fear of sullying his reputation to have an independent judiciary. They say the prime minister should have no role at all in picking judges.
The new law “is totally unsatisfactory and unequal to the task to restore national and international confidence in the independence, impartiality and integrity of the Malaysian judiciary,” Lim Kit Siang of the opposition Democratic Action Party said.
Badawi’s judiciary reform falls short