The position of a judge is one of public trust and on no account should that trust be betrayed, retired Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus said today.
He also told the audience at a forum that judges should be courageous and assert their independence in carrying out their duties.
“What do the judges want? They want to be respected or they want to be looked down upon by the citizens?
“It is true that there’s a powerful executive to contend with, who has the power of appointment, promotion and even removal of judges in some cases,” he said, in answer to a question from the audience on how to protect judges from being victimised.
Hishamudin said the threat of being victimised should not be reason for judges to refuse to assert their independence.
“A person who is meek should not accept the appointment to be a judge.
“Judgeship is a public trust and this trust must not be betrayed,” he said.
He added that the risks were always there but should not hinder judges from carrying out their duties.
“We have injustices done by the executives to independent judges.
“But a ruthless executive would never be able to emasculate the judiciary by victimising judges,” he said at the forum titled “Whither the Federal Constitution – Do fundamental and minority rights matter?”, organised by the Bar Council in Kuala Lumpur.
Fellow retired Court of Appeals judge Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof, meanwhile, said the problem with judicial appointment was that recommendations for such appointments have to be referred to the prime minister, reported Malaysiakini.
“The weak link lies in the need to have the recommendation referred to the prime minister because some people who deserve to be at the apex court were not appointed.
“Thought should be given on how to improve the system,” he was quoted as saying.
The news portal also quoted Bar Council president Steven Thiru as saying that the final say on judicial appointment should not lie in the hands of the prime minister.
He said that if the prime minister disagreed on a recommendation made to him, he must explain his reasons to the Judicial Appointments Commission.
If the commission disagreed with his reasons, the recommendations should go straight to the Conference of Rulers, bypassing the prime minister, he said.
“You cannot have a situation like now, where a recommendation is made to the prime minister, everything goes silent and all he says is ‘give me another name and another name, until I get a name that I am happy with’,” Thiru was quoted as saying. – December 19, 2015.