Tuesday, September 27

Sarawak, Sabah lawyers want Malanjum as next Chief Justice


MIRI: The legal fraternity in Sabah and Sarawak is rooting for a historic and well-deserved appointment of the current Chief Justice of Borneo to become the next Chief Justice of Malaysia .

A chorus of unequivocal support and agreement reverberated across the legal fraternity in Sarawak for Chief Justice of Borneo, Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, to be appointed the next Chief Justice of Malaysia, which would make him the first from East Malaysia for this top-most chair in the Malaysian judiciary.

Deputy Speaker of Sarawak State Legislative Assembly and the first Kelabit lawyer, Dato Gerawat Gala, fully supported the proposal, saying it would be a befitting recognition of his experience in the judicial department.

“Tan Sri Richard Malanjum is among the most senior federal court judges who has a long and distinguished career in the judicial department.

“Many of his decisions and judgements published in the various law reports have become legal precedents for our Malaysian courts,” he said.

Robert Ayu,  a practising lawyer and SPDP Youth chief said he fully supported the suggestion of appointing Malanjum as Chief Justice of Malaysia.

Saying Malanjum was a very experienced and senior judge and well respected, he said “it is high time a senior judge from Sabah or Sarawak sits at the highest post in the judiciary.  It will be a recognition to Sabah and Sarawak’s legal fraternity as well”.

Datuk Lawrence Lai Yew Son, a senior advocate of 32 years, agreed with the idea of Malanjum’s elevation, saying “why appoint an acting chief justice when there is the most qualified candidate in person of Tan Sri Malamjum to fill the vacant post’.

“In the true spirit of 1Malaysia it’s high time and appropriate that the most senior and qualified judge be appointed to be the top judge of Malaysia regardless of his origin or where he comes from,” he said.

Lai, a former mayor of Miri City Council, is also vice-president of Sarawak Advocates Association.

Two prominent retired judges have also vouched for Malanjum’s suitability for the Chief Justice post; he had the seniority and all the qualities required to occupy the position following Arifin Zakaria’s retirement next March.

Malanjum has been in his present position since 2006, and retired Court of Appeal judge Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus said he was looking at a historic and befitting appointment of Malanjum to the top post.

Chief Justice Arfin, who is also the chairman of Judicial Appointments Commission, has been quoted recently as saying that he would use his six-month extension to work out a succession plan.

Malanjum is on the fourth rung in the hierarchy after the Court of Appeal president Raus Sharif and Chief Judge of Malaya Zulkifli Ahmad Makinudin, who will retire next August and September respectively.

Hishamudin argued that it would be better to have Arifin replaced by a ‘substantive CJ’ than an acting CJ and is against the appointment of an ‘outsider’ who could cause unhappiness within the ranks which could attract negative perception.

Another retired Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram concurred, saying the Chief Justice must be someone who must be there for at least two years.

He said Malanjum was the right candidate because he would be due for retirement only in 2019 and his tenure could be extended for six months.

Noting that Peninsular Malaysians Ismail Khan and Lee Hun Hoe had served as Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak previously, he said it was now time to have an East Malaysian as Chief Justice.

He said, as a former lawyer, Malajum had wide exposure and would command the confidence of the bars of the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak.