Sabah Law Society lauds resignations of top judges

Brenndon Keith Soh

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Law Society (SLS) respects and commends the decision of the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, Tun Md Raus bin Sharif and the President of the Court of Appeal, Tan Sri Zulkefli bin Ahmad Makinudin to voluntarily tender their resignations to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on June 6 which is reported to take effect from July 31.

In July 2017, the SLS had issued a press statement urging Raus and Zulkefli not to accept the appointments given the issues of unconstitutionality and suspicion of political patronage that such appointments would raise.

Notwithstanding this, the appointments were accepted, said SLS president Brenndon Keith Soh in a statement yesterday.

He said as a result, the SLS applied to be heard as amicus curiae (not a party to a case) in the challenge brought by the Advocates Association of Sarawak (AAS).

However, the SLS did not mount any separate action as there were by then already at least two similar challenges by the Malaysian Bar and the AAS, Brenndon explained.

He added that approaching the issue from the position of amicus curiae would allow the Sabah Law Society to voice similar concerns albeit from a different platform.

Brenndon said the SLS filed submissions and aired its views that the appointments were unconstitutional before the Federal Court on March 14 this year.

“All three Bars in Malaysia have submitted the issue to the Federal Court. The decision has been deferred to a date to be fixed by the Federal Court.

“Therefore the decision to resign before the judgement of the Federal Court provides a pragmatic solution to the current controversy surrounding their appointments as additional judges continuing to hold office as Chief Justice of the Federal Court and President of the Court of Appeal respectively.

“It further removes the potential embarrassment of the Federal Court judges having to determine the legality of their appointments against their fellow judges.

“Notwithstanding that the SLS has the utmost of faith and respect in the institution of the Federal Court to deliver its decision on the legitimacy of the aforesaid appointments, it appears that the matter before the Federal Court has become academic,” Brenndon pointed out.

Moving forward, he said the SLS is of the view that there is no shortage of suitably qualified and experienced judges available in the judiciary to fill the impending vacancies for the Chief Justice of the Federal Court and President of the Court of Appeal. Furthermore, he added it would appear that there was no impediment for the retirement to take place earlier than the reported date of July 31, this year.

“It is therefore hoped that the successors to these key positions in the judiciary will be appointed promptly upon the retirement of the former office bearers,” he concluded.

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