Jailed former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak waves to supporters as he leaves the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex, in Kuala Lumpur on August 25, 2022. — Photo by Firdaus Latif
By Julia Chan
Monday, August 29, 2022 10:02 PM MYT
KOTA KINABALU, Aug 29 – Three Malaysian legal bodies have slammed politicians’ demands for the prime minister to interfere in the country’s justice system, calling it “appalling” and unconstitutional.
The Malaysian Bar Association, the Sabah Law Society and the Sarawak Lawyers Association, jointly, these requests to interfere with the criminal conviction of Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the replacement of the Attorney General were contrary to Malaysia’s constitutional democracy and its institutions .
“It is deeply disturbing that such calls to interfere in the judicial process or to replace the current Attorney General are made in blatant disregard for the principle of separation of powers and the entrenched constitutional democracy in Malaysia.
“Malaysia is a country that values the separation of powers between the executive, legislature and judiciary as it provides checks and balances for each other,” they said in a statement today.
In the joint statement, Malaysian Bar President Karen Cheah Yee Lynn, Sabah Law Society President Roger Chin and Sarawak Lawyers Association President Antonio Sims said political interference in any case – in particularly a huge public interest – would impinge on the functions and duties of the Attorney General and the court.
“The unconstitutionality of such alleged behavior will cause a serious erosion of justice and undermine the integrity of the Attorney General and the judiciary.
“Such a petition from these politicians is reminiscent of the dark days of the 1988 judicial crisis that pitted the executive against the judiciary, which seemed to eviscerate the image of the judiciary as an independent pillar of governance,” they said.
“We hope the Prime Minister will do the right thing and not act in the opposite direction, as that would be an unconscionable abuse of power and a travesty of justice.”
The groups reminded politicians that the primary duty of the Attorney General is to maintain the integrity of the judicial system within the limits of its powers under the Federal Constitution, and that the primary duty of the judiciary is to interpret and give effect to law.
They said that the heart of the judicial system was the independence of judges to exercise their powers without any intrusion from individuals, entities or political parties.
“It is the responsibility of the judiciary to resolve disputes fairly in accordance with the laws in force, regardless of the demands of politicians or anyone else. The sheer audacity of politicians to seek the interference of the incumbent Prime Minister in this matter, if true, is unacceptable and absurd.
“As a nation, Malaysia experienced an upheaval that culminated in the suspension and removal of then-Chief Justice Tun Salleh Abas and other judges, marking the beginning of a negative shift in the public perception of the judiciary.
“The Malaysian Bar Association, Sabah Law Society and Sarawak Lawyers Association condemn any act by politicians seeking intervention by the Prime Minister in any pending court case on all material points,” they said.
The lawyers also condemned the act of lawyers, involved or not in the case, who made negative remarks undermining the decision rendered by the Federal Court.
They said any decision taken should be treated with the utmost respect, especially when such remarks are legally ill-founded and have the effect of fomenting mistrust of the judiciary by the rakyat “who may not know be no better”.
“Such behavior is a blatant disregard and disrespect for the rule of law and the doctrine of the separation of powers,” they said, adding that in the past politicians had been reprimanded and even charged because they were seen as an abuse of power and a misdeed of the public interest. functions.
“Politicians should not make slanderous remarks that only serve to perpetuate apprehensions and suspicions among the rakyat towards our justice system.
“Now is the time for politicians to understand their role in perpetuating and strengthening the rule of law, including the doctrine of the separation of powers, instead of making Malaysia a legal pariah where the rule of right is not sacrosanct whenever they make unjustifiable statements.
“We must never forget that these are the courts we turn to for justice, as it is the last bastion of hope and the last line of legal recourse available. Courts are beholden only to the law, and it is the responsibility of judges to dispense justice in a manner consistent with the law, not to individuals or political parties. It would truly be a dark day when the lines between our governmental institutions would be blurred,” they said.