DoJ-trained Malaysian judges to deal with modern crimes

Malanjum (centre) strikes the gavel to mark the opening of ‘Legal Year 2019’. He is flanked by Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim (left) and Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop. — Bernama photo

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysian judges and judicial officers have received training from the United States Department of Justice  (DoJ) on how to deal with modern crimes, said Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum.

He said the DoJ has been been very active in exposing and training  the judges and judicial officers to handle modern crimes such as money laundering, cryptocurrency fraud, terrorism and human trafficking. The DoJ started  the training since last year.

“The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is another international organisation which has been very helpful to our judiciary especially in handling public interest litigation.

“The local universities  too are assisting in one way or another. Such training takes time to mature. Indeed we must remember that Putrajaya was not built in one day,” he said in his speech at the launch of Legal Year 2019 at a hotel here yesterday.

The top man in the Malaysian judiciary also said the Judicial Academy of the Judicial Appointments Commission has been organising regular in-house training for judges in several areas of the law.

Apart of that, he said, the judiciary is in discussion to bring in experienced judges from the UK to share with the Malaysian judiciary their experiences in effective case management.

“We are also in serious discussion with the Singapore Judiciary in knowledge sharing programmes. In March, there will be one programme being organised with the help of the Singapore Judiciary,” he said.

On another point, Malanjum said the judiciary has made one solemn declaration, that is to uphold the ‘Rule of Law’ and  zero-tolerance to any form of corruption and judicial interference whether internal or external, political or otherwise, in the execution of  judicial duties.

“We welcome information if any of such occurring. I can assure you that swift action will be taken in accordance with the law. The Judiciary remains and will remain steadfast in upholding its independence.

“We are very conscious that one of the reasons why the public has a negative perception on the courts is that our decisions at times are not in tune with public feelings or the will of the majority. Our response to this is a request for understanding on the functions of the courts. Our court is a court of law and not of the mob,” he said.

He said being a branch and being independent does not mean that the judiciary must act at all times as checks on the other branches (the Legislature and the Executive) and that the three branches should work together and respect each other’s boundaries.

Malanjum also urged junior lawyers to do free legal aid for the unrepresented, instead of leaving the senior lawyers merely mourning for the poor souls.

He said newly-admitted lawyers should do as many as possible pro bono works in courts for this would give them the experience and confidence in court later on.

On another issue, Malanjum also said that the judiciary is in discussion with government departments such as the Prisons Department and Welfare Services Department.

“We are encouraging our judges and judicial officers to consider imposing community services, instead of imprisonment, on offenders in appropriate cases. In this way, not only it could better rehabilitate the offenders, but it is also a cost-saving (measure) for the prisons,” he said.

Later during a press conference, asked on the community service, Malanjum said judges and magistrates should have to consider punish the accused person in the form of community service for lesser offences, instead of locking them up as this would  also help reduce congestion in prisons.

He said there is a provision provided for in the Penal Code to sentence the accused person in the form  of community service for lesser offences.

“The move has been implemented in Sabah where I feel it is successful. They (offenders) would wear the (prison) attire while doing community service.

“As they face the public (while doing community service), they will then be ashamed, rather than be spending one or two weeks in prison,” he said.

About 500 guests comprising High Court judicial commissioners, High Court judges, Court of Appeal judges, Federal Court judges, higher management of the office of the Federal Court Chief Registrar and judicial officers attended the opening of ‘Legal Year 2019’.

During the ceremony, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office in charge of law, Datuk Liew Vui Keong also launched a book entitled ‘Judicial Review Guide for Public Officers: An Introduction’.

The book can be downloaded from the judiciary website (www.kehakiman.gov.my). — Bernama

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