KUCHING: Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian is endorsing wholeheartedly the recommendation by two prominent former judges for the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, Tan Sri Richard Malanjum to be appointed the next Chief Justice (CJ).
The two mentioned are retired Court of Appeals judge Datuk Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus and retired Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram.
Baru, who is a senior lawyer, echoed Mohd Hishamudin’s opinion on the desirability of having a ‘substantive CJ rather than an acting CJ’.
Baru said aside from Malanjum’s seniority by virtue of his 10-year tenure as Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, the latter was also a visionary who would be able to bring about the much-needed reform to the Malaysian judiciary.
“It was the far-sighted and determined Richard Malanjum who initiated the computerisation of the courts in Sabah and Sarawak in 2006, upon his appointment as the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak.
“His close involvement in the development and implementation of the project led to the creation of the Integrated Court Solution (ICS), which won the United Nations World Summit Award 2009 in the ‘E-Government and Institutions Category’.
“Members of the judiciary – the bar, parties in trials and the public – have benefitted from the improved processes brought about by the ICS,” Baru, also state PKR chairman, said in a press statement yesterday.
He said Malanjum was eminently qualified for the position of CJ.
“We are confident that he (Malanjum) will carry out the duties of his office without fear or favour and will uphold the principles of justice unconditionally. There can be no question about his capability to head the Malaysian judiciary.”
Baru said in the 53 years since the formation of Malaysia, no Sarawakian or Sabahan judge had held this position. In view of the present most suitable candidate being a Sabahan, the people of both states could look forward in great anticipation to his appointment, said Baru.
“We trust that the appointment of the next CJ will be based on meritocracy and fairness, free from any political interference. If for any reason Richard Malanjum is sidelined, the people of Sabah and Sarawak will understandably feel slighted. It will be another indication that we are the second cousins, not equal partners in the Federation of Malaysia as envisioned by our forefathers.
“For too long, we have been neglected and for too long, we have accepted this shameful treatment without protest. Of late, there has been much discussion about the status of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia, and many are expressing disenchantment with the less than honourable treatment meted out to the Borneo states by Peninsular Malaysia.
“This opening in the top ranks of the Malaysian judiciary is a timely opportunity for rapprochement between the East and West, not because of the need to make amends, but because Richard Malanjum is the most suitable candidate. It will be a start to Sarawak and Sabah taking our rightful place in Malaysia,” Baru elaborated.
Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria, who is retiring next March, was recently quoted as having said that he would use his six-month extension to work out a succession plan. The outgoing CJ is also the chairman of the Judicial Appointments Commission.
The current Court of Appeals president Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif and Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zulkifli Ahmad Makinudin, will retire next August and September, respectively.
Both positions are second and third on the judicial ladder, with Malanjum on the fourth rung.