Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pak Lah's Judicial Reform Speech

Abstract of our Prime Minister's speech at the special dinner hosted jointly by the government and the Bar Council tonight at a dinner at JW Marriott Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

"Delivering justice, renewing trust"

Ladies and gentlemen
A very good evening to all of you. This is my first opportunity to speak directly to the legal community and related members of civil society since the recent General Election.

This occasion is particularly meaningful to all of us because of the presence of a few special guests. It is heartening to see in this gathering Tun Salleh Abas, Tan Sri Azmi Kamaruddin and Dato George Seah. Tan Sri Wan Hamzah had wanted to join us tonight but was not able to.

For me and for many other Malaysians, these towering judicial personalities represent a very different era for the nations judiciary. Many felt that the judiciary then was a venerable institution which could be trusted to deliver justice. Some even hailed Malaysia’s judiciary as a model for other countries independent and credible.

This level of trust and respect for the judiciary, we must all admit, is simply not as strong as it was before.

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. In Malaysia’s case, debates and arguments on the state of our judiciary have been heated and protracted. Some of the Malay Rulers have openly voiced their disquiet on what they see as a decline, requiring nothing short of a judicial renaissance. Some retired judges have related troubling tales of impropriety. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have called for reform of this most august institution. Even the Bar Council, true to form, has marched en masse outside my office.

To a large extent, the events of 1988 have fuelled much of the disagreement on how to move on.

When I took office in 2003, I promised a credible, effective and independent judiciary.

I even took a political leap of faith by appointing an outspoken maverick as my new de facto Law Minister. I can say with a clear conscience that I abide and will continue to abide by the principle of separation of powers, leaving the matter of justice to the judiciary. And yet the legacy of 1988 haunts us until today.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Let us move on. The judiciary must be revitalized to enable it to serve the people in pursuit of justice. The judiciary must be fortified to be an institution that serves the democratic principle of separation of powers. The judiciary must be the guardian of the Constitution and the sentinel of the people’s rights.

This government gives its commitment to the Malaysian public that it will begin a process of judicial reform. We recognize that this process must be undertaken with the spirit and belief that no one, not even those entrusted to govern or to make laws, must assume to be above the law. This government continues to guard against abuse of its power, and is now proposing measures to further solidify and entrench the doctrines of good governance and the rule of law.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
As a result of many events, which culminated in the inquiry undertaken by the Royal Commission into the so-called V.K. Lingam Tape, I am aware that the public considers the present way of appointing and promoting judges as inadequate. The absence of a system in nominating candidates has led some to believe that the process is characterized by abuse, even where there is none. As is often the case, perception can lead reality.

On the other hand, some may argue that the present system does not require improvement if people in the system are inherently honest and fair. The same system has produced its share of outstanding judges after all.

I do not dispute this, but 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. This is a necessary part of ensuring that our nation’s judiciary is robust and trusted by the people.

Therefore, the Government proposes a change to make the process of nominating, appointing and promoting judges more transparent and representative.

I am pleased to announce to you tonight that the Government is proposing the setting up of a Judicial Appointments Commission to identify and recommend candidates for the judiciary to the Prime Minister. While the constitutional prerogative of the Prime Minister to put forward names to DYMM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang Di Pertuan Agong will remain, the Commission will help to evaluate and vet candidates in a systematic and credible manner for the Prime Minister, based on clearly defined criteria.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
For many, the events of 1988 were an upheaval of the nation’s judicial system. Rightly or wrongly, many disputed both the legality and morality of the related proceedings. For me, personally, I feel it was a time of crisis from which the nation never fully recovered.

Again, ladies and gentlemen, let us move on. I do not think it wise or helpful to revisit past decisions as it would only serve to prolong the sense of crisis, something our nation can do without. The rakyat wants movement and progress, not continuing strife.

Therefore, the Government would like to recognise the contributions of these six judges to the nation, their commitment towards upholding justice and to acknowledge the pain and loss they have endured. For Tan Sri Eusoffe and Tan Sri Wan Suleiman and their families, I know this sentiment is made too late. For Tun Salleh Abas, Tan Sri Azmi Kamaruddin, Tan Sri Wan Hamzah and Dato George Seah, although this acknowledgement is 20 years too late, it is made with much hope that a measure of the pain and loss may yet be healed.

In recognition of the contributions of the six outstanding judges, the Government has decided to make goodwill ex gratia payments to them. Gentlemen, I do not presume to equate your contributions, pain and loss with mere currency, but I hope that you could accept this as a heartfelt and sincere gesture to mend what has been.

The government has set the ball rolling. We have put forward initial, but vital, steps. Now it is for all parties concerned - the judiciary, the Bar, civil society and the public at large - to also play their respective roles in facilitating these reforms. Whatever our differences, we share the same idealism for our nations judiciary. Let us work through our differences.

With this, it is my sincere hope that we may begin a new chapter for the Malaysian judiciary. It is my hope that this becomes part of a bigger process to further strengthen our democratic institutions, step-by-step resolving intractable problems that have stood in the way of genuine nation-building. Let us write this proud and new chapter together.

Thank you.

Full text of speech by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is published here


GobloKing said...

OK I hear you

OK I think this was a speech worth listening to

NOW let's see things rolling!!!

Let's see SOME action!

If I were AAB I would

1. put back some of these revered malaigned judges into the commission to help us transit to a proper justice system.

2. Fire the shit outta incompetent nincompoop judges and deny them of a pension!

I also hope a KEY criteria for selecting learned judges incl:-

Reading and writing +
knowing the law
(or am I asking for too much here?)

It a well known fact that some of the current judge buruks are not writing judgements; and if they do come out with written judgements (like years later)-

Others have been writing the judgements for them!

Come ON Badawi - REDEEM YOURSELF!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Speech contains the words of what the rakyats wants to hear.

Please lay out the plan to put life in those words.

Anonymous said...

so will we be getting a new attorney general as well ?

Anonymous said...

aiyoo yoohhhh hohhohhhh


not another 4 years of COKC TALK!

PAK LAH NEVER LEARN... people don't take COKC SPEECH easily nowadays.


Muda said...

Mr PM , at least you have more balls and guts to do something that your immediate predecessor would not do even till kingdom come . Having said that , what about the present Judges and JC's who were appointed by Ahmad Fairuz because they were 'his people.' I'm sure members of the Bar and the judicial officers who they are and their 'qualifications.'

If you meant what you said to see the emergence of a new rejuvenated judiciary , then walk the talk . Let the new CJ purged all those who were not exactly qualified to be sitting in the high court as His Majesty's Judges but still appointed by Ahmad Fairuz because they were ' his people.'. I'm confident that members of the Bar and the honest judges and officers in the judiciary can vouch to that.

Maverick SM said...


It's a new beginning ... it isn't enough but we hope Zaid will act faster to restore and reform the judiciary with integrity.


You are right.


Let Fairuz ghost rest; we have to move forward.

Anonymous said...


UMNO Boleh Masuk Kubur - DAP!

Strategi peminggiran orang melayu oleh orang cina





Anonymous said...

What ever it is, this so call government (bunch of political liars) had made their mistake and then use rakyat's money (hard earn income tax money) to give those judges a goodwill ex-gratia payment.
If like that ahhh, I also want to be the government. I frame somebody, put him into suffer, then give him a goodwill ex-gratia money. I only want 20% commission from that money. Furthermore, why do I care about that money. It is not my money anywhere. Syokk ahhh, become a government. Made "mistake" then apologize + give compensation to those as a result to that "mistake".
Unless Paklah (including Dr M & Daim also contribute) using their own pocket money, then I'LL GIVE MY FULLEST RESPECT TO THEM!!! I'LL MAKE SURE THAT MY VOTE WILL GO TO BN.

bayi said...

There is hope yet for AAB to redeem himself.

I hope he won't be sabotaged by his own selfish party members who aspire to kick the sh*t out of him so that they can climb the UMNO ladder!

Jefus said...

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on ME

Mav, u once explained why u chose the title of this blog. What is it that you have noticed in him .... made you plead for a second chance for him?

Keeping Msia engrossed in politics will take our eyes off from the economic problems that are looming around the world, soaring food prices, inflation, soggy stock market,....

He has shown, his hand, .....cakap tak serupa bikin

CK said...

OK. Let's accept the fact tat Pak Liar is not gonna step down voluntarily. So, until his partner-in-crime in UHMno managed to force him down, he has to do sth to collect sympathetic points.

my take is tat if he's really serious abt the judicial reform, he should ACT fast after the speech, then he might get to do some good. having said tat, he still stand a risk being forced to step down.

meanwhile, if he did some reform, i dun care if he gotta step later or not, at least some good is done.

and i tend to agree with jefus, v r too occupied with Liar-UHMno drama and the excruciating state of economy now is being ignored.

Anonymous said...

Dear Maverick. Greetings.

Thx for giving the speech prominence in the blog. Otherwise would not have read especially if in the MSM.

To the great six sons of Malaysia bravo i say.Better late than never. May Tun M search his consciense and do the right thing before it is too late too for him. Our Maker will recall us eventually by turn.

Just have one question ref the sincerity of Pak Lah after cursorily scanning the speech above. VK Lingam video tape revealed the role of Tengku Adnan clearly. Yet this man was given the Putra jaya Parlimentary seat to contest and later appointed as UMNO Sec General by Pak Lah.

As we now await the formal report of the second Royal Comission, not that much is expected, will Pak Lah care to explain the moves made ref Adnan above vis a vis all that big talk about justice in the speech above ?


18 April 2008

Anonymous said...

Mahathir must be losing sleep over this latest humiliation , well-done Abdullah.

Get the parliament to pass a resolution to the same effect will be even better.

cakap mesti bikin siap siap said...

Without any timeframe set out, I see this is another attempt to by more time.

We want commitment and no more rhetorics.

When will this happen? Got any timeline or do we wait till year 2020?

What happen to the IPCMC?

mindful mariner said...

Adbullah may perhaps be sincere, but will it just be another case of empty words and unachievable aspirations.

But the words may never be translated into positive actions, and detailed policies which can be acted upon down the line, according to a pre-set fixed schedule?

Let's hope for the best, (and prepare for the worst) the winds of change are certainly blowing, stronger and stronger, however there are a lot of spoilers waiting out front, and also in the wings, every ready to throw a spanner in the works.

Hidden agendas abound and unless the selfish, greedy, self-centred and dishonest are ousted from the government machinery, Malaysia's road to true advancement and proper sustainable development will be tortuous and tentative.

"Talking is cheap, some people will follow like sheep!!"

Anonymous said...

i think pak lah is basically good, amid a bit incompetent, but a least better than some. he should be given a chance. Cos I doubt his successor will be any better than him, and probably a Dr.M crony.

his problem is twofold:
firstly, those around him has given him bad advice and manipulated him for favor and power. Sack those people and distance himself from them. Get really good people in, based on merit and judgement. If he had look beyond the circle of UNMO and malay criteria alike, I bet he can find really good ones. I have seen them myself in corporate world when I was in malaysia. Since govt doesn't want them, most ended up in private company serving foreign masters making money for them. what a waste of true talent, instead of serving Malaysia!

second problem is with dr.M, he keep attacking PM. the problem is not just verbal, but Dr.M also has control of others in UMNO, this makes the PM has no absolute power at his discretion. His is surely better than Dr.M, that I know. First thing he should have done in 2004 should have been to weakend this Dr.M influence on this. But too bad he didn't do it, and it came back to haunt him again and again.

bayi said...

I am prepared to think well of Pak Lah and I am also aware of the uphill task he faces with the resistance from those around him, especially his ministers. But for the previous lapses of Pak Lah, my goodwill will be conditional. Conditional to his will to keep reforms on track and to keep KJ out of all the nonsense he was in.

GobloKing said...

Who would I prefer ?

1. sleepy, ineffective, "love my family, love my airplanes /yachts & nasikandar" leader?


2. "multi-billion $ deals in my pocket", waving kitchen knife to frighthen chickens & "mystery of the killed foreign mistress" leader recommended by a doctor?

I am leaning very reluctantly towards the devil I know than the devil I am too scared to know!

UNLESS another alternative devil comes along

Anonymous said...

i don't believe him..he is doing it to save whatever credibilty he has left. He should have done waht needs to be done. Even when the Lingam tape came out..sleepy head was dragging his feet. And who did he try to promote as chief judge until there was a standoff between PM and King. AAB is a patologocal liar..and he is doing this just to save though he is hero.

UMNO wants to kill he is trying to save himself.

4 and half years he did nothing..If he had won the elections, this sleepy headed bimbo will not even bother.

Maverick SM said...

Go to See,

Thanks for the links and I will!

Dotor Em,

We need reform and it must start somewhere; at least Salleh Abas is morally uplifted by this gesture.


AAB just didn't do it right at this critical moment when he needs the rakyat's strong and overwhelming support to stay as PM.


I am not pleading to give AAB a 2nd chance; I am saying he got a 2nd chance if he would act radically and strategically restore the judicial pride and integrity by making an unconditional apology and make promises to dismantle the 4th floor, enact IPCMC, construct Bangsa Malaysia and reform the judiciary including the independence of the 3-branches of the government. That way, he will rally the rakyat's support and force Umno to support his PMship for a few more years.

Maverick SM said...


Read my comment addressed to Jefus.


That speech was culled from the NST.

And I believed Tengku Adnan will be history soon.