by V. Anbalagan
The Malaysian Insider
4 July 2014
Biased or discriminatory views expressed by judges even after their retirement reflect negatively on the judiciary and undermine public perception of their independence, former Bar Council chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said.
“The prestige of the judiciary is determined by judges themselves, not just when they were on the bench but even when they retire,” she said in a statement, responding to former chief justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad’s criticism of the Bar Council’s role in the drafting of the National Unity Consultative Council’s (NUCC) three bills to replace the Sedition Act and aligning the Bar with the opposition.
On Monday, Hamid said he did not want to join the NUCC as he feared being used by certain parties, who wanted to cast aside Malay rights and the position of Islam in the country.
He said the opposition had “taken over” the NUCC, and questioned why the opposition, particularly the Bar, was allowed to determine policies and according to their agendas.
Former Bar Council chairman Lim Chee Wee and several opposition MPs sit on the NUCC.
Hamid also said his reason for associating the Bar with the opposition was in connection with a dinner organised by the Bar after the 12th general election in 2008, when he was the Chief Justice of Malaysia. Ambiga was chairman of the Bar at the time.
“The event was nothing more than a celebratory dinner for the opposition’s win,” he said.
Ambiga yesterday recalled speaking at the dinner about members of the Bar who had stood in the 2008 general election and won.
“For us, it was a source of pride that members of the Bar offer themselves to serve the nation in Parliament no matter which party they belong to.
“I recall stating that we had high expectations of them. (Tun) Hamid’s criticism is, therefore, baseless,” she added.
Ambiga said those who sat in judgment of others were themselves judged by higher standards.
“That judges are human and have personal prejudices, is appreciated. However, it is a requirement of their oaths of office that they rise above their personal prejudices when they decide cases,” she added.
“The responsibilities of a judge are, therefore, onerous, as so much more is required of them.”
Ambiga also said Hamid’s attack on the NUCC which is seeking to unite all the people of Malaysia was unfortunate.
Ambiga said those who truly believed in a united Malaysia would give the NUCC a chance but those who championed the rights of only one community would not appreciate its work.
“What is disappointing is that a respected former member of the judiciary feels that way.” – July 4, 2014.