With UMNO’s Zaki in, out goes judicial reform

October 17, 2008

I am writing from Phnom Penh. I am aghast at this latest news coming out Kuala Lumpur today that the appointment of UMNO’s Zaki Tun Azmi as the new Chief Justice of our country has been accepted by Majlis Di Raja (Council of Rulers). Zaki is the pick of our reform minded Badawi government in its dying days, despite the fact that some 25,000 Malaysians had signed the petition appealing to our Duli Yang Maha Yang DiPertuan (our King) to stop this appointment.

This is no doubt a huge blow to judicial reform and one can only hope the Parliamentarians on both sides of the aisle will in good conscience and as provided under Article 127 of the Federal Constitution debate this appointment. As it is, Malaysia’s image abroad is severely impaired and with this latest development, political observers and analysts will wonder why Prime Minister Badawi who promised to push his reform agenda in his remaining months in office should be making such retrogressive move.—Din Merican


October 17, 2008

Pakatan Rakyat may invoke the Federal Constitution to debate the controversial appointment of Zaki Azmi as the new chief justice.


Article 127 of the Federal Constitution allows the tabling of a motion to debate the conduct of a judge if this is backed by 25 percent of parliamentarians.

anwar ibrahim sodomy allegation saiful bukhari azlan first day in court 070808 lim kit siang 01According to DAP leader Lim Kit Siang, who is MP for Ipoh Timur, the opposition will need 55 MPs to support the motion. Pakatan has 81 MPs in Parliament.

Lim said that Article 127 “empowers the tabling in Parliament a substantive motion to debate the suitability and the merits/demerits of Zaki as the new chief justice provided it has the support of at least a quarter of the members of parliament”.

“If such a substantive motion is presented in Parliament, it would be the first time in Malaysian parliamentary and constitutional history,” said the veteran politician, who has been an MP for three decades.

Article 127 spells out the restriction on parliamentary discussion of conduct of a senior judge.

Parliament, which is currently in session, does not sit on Friday and will resume on Monday.

article 127 restriction on parliamentary discussion of conduct of judgeMalaysiakini reported yesterday that Zaki has been picked by the Council of Rulers to be new chief justice – the judiciary’s most powerful post.

The Federal Constitution provides for the rulers to appoint the chief justice on the advice of the prime minister.

The appointment, yet to be made official, has caused an uproar due to Zaki’s close links with ruling party UMNO.

Critics have lambasted the former businessman’s quick rise in the judiciary. Zaki was appointed straight into the Federal Court last September, and two months later made Court of Appeal president – the judiciary’s No 2 post.

Zaki, 63, will be at the helm for at least three years unless his tenure is extended by the government.

Judge has close ties with UMNO

Pakatan has earlier written a letter to the rulers urging them to defer the appointment of the chief justice.

The October 16 letter – signed by PKR vice-president Azmin Ali, PAS secretary-general Kamaruddin Jaffar and DAP leader Lim – called on the rulers to consider public opinion on the choice of a new chief justice.

zaki azmi chief justice 161008In addition, about 25,000 people have signed a petition to the king to object Zaki’s promotion due to his involvement with UMNO.

“Zaid Ibrahim, who was appointed minister in the Prime Minister’s Department after the March 8 general election by Abdullah to shepherd the reforms into reality, had implied that the appointment of a new chief justice … would be made under the new reform format and regime of a Judicial Appointment Commission. But this is not to be…,” lamented Lim in a statement.

“With Abdullah’s promise that judicial reform would nonetheless be pushed through into fruition as it was his original pledge and not Zaid’s, one would have thought that the appointment of the new chief justice would be in the spirit of reformist consultation with the relevant stakeholders under the promised regime of judicial reforms.

“This is not only not so, the prime minister has shown utter disregard and contempt for the widespread objections of the legal community and civil society to the appointment of the first UMNO chief justice in the 51-year history of the nation.”

Zaki was UMNO legal adviser and had served as chairperson of the party’s election committee as well as deputy chairperson of its disciplinary committee.

Meanwhile, the Bar Council released a statement today saying there have been concerns expressed in relations to Zaki’s political affliations and business connections.”These concerns can only be dispelled by him through the conduct of his duties and by a demonstration of independence and impartiality at all times,” said council president Ambiga Sreenevasan.

27 thoughts on “With UMNO’s Zaki in, out goes judicial reform

  1. Zaki Azmi should self disqualify himself unless he unload all the
    load in his backpack. As a man to be as chief justice he should
    think for the good of the nation. PM has failed the nation on his
    reform and Gerakan Datuk Koh may have taken for a dark walk by the PM. Blind leading the blind.

  2. It is very disheartening to read about the wrongs that are happening in our beloved country.

    Why are our beloved Rulers keeping silent over the oppression by the evil BN.

    Aren’t they supposed to be protectors of the rakyat or are they only interested to protect their own ricebowls.

    So sad!!!

    Makes me wonder about their role and what they stand for???


    If we are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. – Desmond Tutu

  3. Looks like there 2 noteworthy coincidences this week.

    There was the special Press Statement by the Rulers.

    Now Zaki is the Chief Justice.

    Actually, the special press statement is the result of deliberations by the Malay Rulers prior to their attendance at the meeting of the Conference of Rulers on Oct

    16 2008


    How did the rulers get their information? Did the Government have a referendum, poll or they got some “SMS” via Bernama TV?

  4. Pretty sure this haste in appointment with Najib lurking for the PM post, and he himself trying to undone some of the damage made by Zaid Ibrahim in re compensating Tun Salleh Abas unto himself, Mahathir, again pounces.

    Not sure how the conference of rulers might be duped but in all the frustration, there will be moments when the current will change.

    As for mahathir, in the end, perhaps his is just a case of a dictator trying too hard. Like the balance that nature operates, there will be a turning point, a day of reckoning.

  5. Whether it is 25,000 or 25 million who signed the petition it would make no difference. Since when did the Rulers bother to give a ear to such petitions and memorandums?

    What happened to the memo sent by Bersih?
    The only response we get from them is a deafening silence.
    Even though I signed the petition, I had made a note to Haris that it would be an exercise in futility.
    We live in a state when those in the corridors of power care a damn about the rakyat’s views.
    I even predict Anwar will face the same ‘brick wall’ when he attempts to take over the government. Do you think they want to rock the boat?
    If Zaki is accepted by the rulers, it looks like they will even accept Najib, with all his warts, dirt and Hindu attire as the next PM.

  6. Despite my frequent criticism of him, even until yesterday morning I still quietly harbour hopes that Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi may still turn out some surprises with a flip or two before his retirement and history may remember him a little kindly.

    But when I received news that their royal highnesses had endorsed his proposal of Zaki has the new CJ, it brought me to near to tears. I felt that sudden sense of hopelessness and frustration set in. What is to become of this country of ours? When are they going to give up tearing it down? Have they not done enough damage to this country we once proudly call “land of glory”?

    Why is the Council of Rulers not listening to the rakyat, don’t they ever care at all?

  7. It is nice to see the emotional Jong come out of the closet once in a while. For a long time I used to have doubts about Jong’s gender.

    I am old school. I need to see, hear and touch before I can believe 🙂

  8. Mr Bean, that’s only 3 of the 5 senses!

    What happened to the other 2? 😀

    Nowadays, I know when Jong is online – when my laptop rattles …?

    Hey, Jong! How are you with Google Earth? Thought I saw you looking for something in your compound! 😉

  9. Has any of you realised that Omar is always not with us? Yeah he complained to me that all his postings would always go ‘awaiting moderation’ . He’s pissed. I told him mine’s ok, probably Din doesn’t like his face! 😀 😀 😀 !

    On a serious note, Din needs to look into it. I see that he has cleared Omar’s and they only got this evening. One was from 2 nights ago. Guess he’s reading our posting but unable to communicate. 😀

  10. “Well, Jong time to move on. Canada beckons you.” Tok Cik

    Why Canada?? Why not Alaska – meet Sarah Palin, the moose hunter? She’d be back to being Governor by then!

  11. 11 | Salak

    October 18th, 2008 at 1:19 am

    “Mr Bean, that’s only 3 of the 5 senses!

    What happened to the other 2?”

    What other two?? Oh, smell and taste? You want me to smell and taste Jong? Is she edible 🙂

  12. 7) Jong,

    “But when I received news that their royal highnesses had endorsed his proposal of Zaki has the new CJ, it brought me to near to tears. I felt that sudden sense of hopelessness and frustration set in.”

    Hope against hope ,but are we all that naive or surprised to find out now that even the Maharajas and the Mahakuasas are all in the same boat,all cuma jaga periok nasi sendirian……I am trying my damnest not throw in more than a few expletives to complete this sentence.
    Alas, I don’t want to encourage Botak’s goons to give me an airport reception when I balik kampung.( Like Salak said, no one is safe) Furthermore, I am only a passive(armchair) activist and not even a long distance “agitator” – a title (of agitator) more befitting to heroes like Mr. Din.
    But back to the point, Jong, believe in Lenny Kravitz that “it ain’t over till it is over”. It is not game over yet as far as judiciary independence in Malaysia is concerned – provided Mr. Din and his leader will stop talking the talk and start to walk the walk. About time,they start to lead by example, when it comes to fighting, otherwise they are not better than the clowns across the political divide whose favourite mantra is “don’t do what we do but do what we say”, which is basically, inertia .

  13. 16 | ocho-onda,

    Thanks Ocho. I suppose you may be right. We have been brought up to respect and pledge allegiance to our Sultans – Raja Raja kita

    Negaraku… Tanah Tumpahnya Darahku :: Rakyat Hidup:: Bersatu dan Maju:: Rahmat B’gia:: Tuhan Kurniakan:: Raja Kita:: Selamat Bertakhta

    but where are they when we need them? They don’t even want to acknowledge the rakyat’s petition let alone listen to us? We want to hear from them, their views and advice perhaps, not just cold “special statement” from Council of Rulers. What does that mean?

    Are they so unreachable and we call them the Raja Raja of the rakyat?

  14. Maybe, Jong we gotta take another look at the Press report :

    Press Statement issued by the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal on the role of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Malay Rulers regarding the special privileges, position, eminence or greatness of the Malay Rulers, Islam, Malay as the national language, the special position of the Malays, and genuine interests of the other communities in accordance with the Federal Constitution.

    “The Malay Rulers who attended the meeting of the Conference of Rulers conferred on the issuing of this special joint press statement today.

    “The Malay Rulers hold the constitutional role to safeguard the special privileges, position, eminence and greatness of the Malay Rulers, safeguard Islam, Malay as the National Language, and the genuine interests of the other communities in Malaysia.

    “The actions of certain quarters in disputing and questioning these matters, which formed the primary basis for the formation of Malaysia and are enshrined in the Federal Constitution, had caused provocation and uneasiness among the people.

    Who are “those quarters”? What are the “disputes” and “questions”?

    What is the “provocation” or the “uneasiness”?

    Who are “the people”?

    Do you see ice-cream castles in the air? 😦

    Or do you see Gollum slithering by? 😦

  15. ocho-onda,

    I am neither a hero nor an agitator. I am only a concerned Malaysian who thinks that our country will be gong to the dogs, if we remain indifferent and do not hold politicians in power to account for their policies and actions.—Din Merican

  16. 19)Mr.Din,

    Fair comment and fair play to you ! Likewise, there are also many other patriotic citizens abroad or onboard who are not able to participate more actively due to overt or subvert circumstances but who are nonetheless sympathetic to the worthy cause of correcting the ills and malaise that has been eroding the health of our beloved country.

    Perhaps you will agree with me that it is irrelevant what label or which flag we wave as long as our hearts and souls belong to Malaysia and persevere to contribute within our limited capacities as rightful citizens to address to the social, political and economic issues that affect the sustenance and
    development of our beauticul country.
    ocho-onda, labels and symbols are essential. If not why have the Malaysian flag and Negara Ku. Even more important to me is for Malaysians to “seize the moment” and “enter the arena” (Teddy Roosevelt). Change cannot come if we remain passive.

    So far we have been passive, and, worse still, indifferent and this mind-set causes us to choose the leaders we now have. They are self serving, corrupt and incompetent. Badawi would not be prime minister if we had rejected him in the 2004 Elections and we would have been spared all the nonsense that have occured since. We are the laughing stock of the region, even in Cambodia, because we in 2004 endorsed Mahathir’s “brilliant”(sarcasm intended) choice of Badawi as his successor. Malaysians voted Badawi and the UMNO-BN clique again in 2008. In reality, we have better leaders outside the UMNO-BN ambit.—-Din Merican

    What can you expect from bias reporting from the establishment’s mouthpiece? They conveniently neglect to mention,apart from the obvious, that no Malaysians especially non-Malays were or ever against the constitutional rights of Malays,Kings, Islam,etc,etc…- that NEP was written after the Constitution and like the person(s) who suggested the NEP, the rakyat are merely aspiring that the socio-economic-political structures of this country be rewritten,NOT THE SPECIAL RIGHTS OF THE MALAYS,etc,, which are entrenched in the CONSTITUTION.

    God helps the country if “they” can’t see that the only constant in Life is change and the nation needs to change with the needs of the times or as a nation we will perish like the proverbial dinosaur(sorry,pun unintended). The NEP started with noble intentions and Mahathirism, like communism and the welfare state , fails because it created a new class within a class and as power corrupts and corrupts absolutely, it goes back to square one where the poor gets poorer while the rich few gets obscenely richer and fatter!

    As to welfarism, how do you tell the good doctor that his prescription for his patient ,what was intended as an aid has become a crutch and has resulted in the patient being totally incapable of walking without it !?!

  17. “…we have better leaders outside the UMNO-BN” … dinobeano

    Absolutely, we do. The only consolation is the “better way” should triumph, yet!

    If there is a “better” way, and it’s there somewhere, I guess we’ll find it.

    But that way is not my way, your way, his or her way or their way, it’s just “the way”.

    Trouble is, it’s not in sight yet, anywhere! 😦

  18. Point taken,Mr.Din although I beg to differ . The average men on the streets were and are never indifferent to what is happening in the country and to what goes into their rice bowl.
    It is mind boggling how politicians do not get it that the rakyat does not bother who is in power as long as their common aspirations are met – roof over the head, food on the table, the availability of gainful employment and peace and security for their loved ones and belongings.
    The only reason why the nation is in such a deplorable state and why the rape and plunder of the state resources has carried on unbashed, is because of the “chimpanzee politics” practiced in Boleh land.
    In a controlled democracy like ours, the Machiavellian opportunists in power have a field day. What good is a general election if we don’t have a two party system? It is only recently that the rakyat have a strong opposing party to vote for, with the advent of the PKR to form a viable, functional, alternative government.
    And it is also recently that the people are better informed with what is really happening in the country . Erstwhile, they have been bombarded by propaganda lies and half truths churned out by the government mouth pieces with no internet or bloggers to provide an alternative informative option.
    So blame the system, not the rakyat. Having said that, I am hopeful that there will be change for the better. It is no longer a question of if but when and how the change of government will take place. But we must also ask ourselves if we can afford the luxury to wait much longer for that change to happen ?

  19. Imprisonment, suppression right up to the bank are real ocho-onda, in addition to decades of conditioning. Police brutality can possily be very mean. Our guys have been trained with the CIA, too. The rest, you might want to read up on old fictions where truth and falsehood are merged into jerebu.

    And worst you can’t question the constitution when you actually have representatives to Parliament. What do they want to hear? The lanun from Kinabatangan?

    People have questioned God and in the process found truth. But we can’t question a piece of paper which we can rewrite. We’re living in neo-supertition. Isn’t life tattered enough that to dole out a sense of sanity you will need to get by in stiches? That’s not funny anymore!

  20. Can’t agree more with you, Salak.
    Regarding the timing of the CJ’s appointment,wonder if that decision was in anyway influenced by the outcome of the recent court case involving a certain regent? If it does, you can bet your money that some horse trading has taken place like “you scratch my back and I scratch yours”!

  21. 23)ocho-onda,

    ….”with the advent of the PKR to form a viable, functional, alternative government……”

    correction :- …with the advent of the Pakatan Rakyat (Alternative Alliance) to form a viable,functional, alternative government…..

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