A wider variety of judges have been appointed for the bank since the JAC was founded in 2009, says UM law professor Shad Saleem Faruqi.
PETALING JAYA: A report released today by the Bersih 2.0 electoral reform group revealed weaknesses in the judicial appointment process under the Judicial Appointment Commission (JAC).
The report, entitled “Maintaining the Independence of the Judiciary: Appointment, Promotion and Removal of Judges in Malaysia” notes that although the appointment process of judges has improved with the establishment of the Commission in 2009, the appointment of judges may have improved nor by the The Executive as Prime Minister reserves the sole discretion to appoint five of the nine JAC members.
The Prime Minister also has the power to reject the names of the judges presented by the JAC. He can also ask for further recommendations without giving a reason and suggest names that were not originally recommended by the Commission.
Apart from that, there is also concern that the Prime Minister, alone or with the Chief Justice, has constitutional authority to initiate deportation proceedings against JAC members by petitioning the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to appoint an ad hoc tribunal.
“There is a lack of transparency in the appointment of the members of the ad hoc tribunal and the entire investigation process,” the report added.
Following this, Bersih 2.0 urged the government to reform the judge appointment process by amending the federal constitution to allow for the status of the JAC constitution.
You said the composition of the nine-member commission should also be restructured.
In addition to the four ex officio members of the Judiciary, composed of the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, the President of the Court of Appeals, the Chief Justice of the Malaya Supreme Court, and the Chief Justice in Sabah and Sarawak, three members of the Bar Association should: Sabah Law Society and the Advocates Associate of Sarawak representing the three law firms.
“Two lay people from civil society or academia should also be selected from the seven other members of the JAC, who represent the public and civil society perspective through open application and a clearly defined selection process.”
Bersih also recommended that the Judicial Appointments Commission law be amended in 2009 to limit the Prime Minister’s discretion to reject nominations from the JAC to only one time for each vacancy on the commission.
“The Prime Minister must also state his reasons for doing so,” said Bersih 2.0, adding that another change should be to limit the term of office of JAC members to a maximum of four years.
Malaya University law professor Shad Saleem Faruqi agreed that the JAC was an imperfect institution but was necessary and important nonetheless.
During a panel discussion following the presentation of the report, he said that a wider variety of judges had been appointed to the bank since the JAC was established.
“In my two years at the JAC, there has been a significant reduction in ethnic and gender imbalances under former Chief Justice Richard Malanjum and Chief Justice Tengku Maimun.”
“All in all, I think that despite its shortcomings, the JAC encouraged a lot more openness, transparency and discussion before a decision was made. I think that’s a hallmark of democracy and good governance, ”said Shad Saleem, who is also an expert on constitutional law.