The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak should explain whether he had been guilty of abuse of power when he stymied the promotion of Court of Appeal judge, Justice Hishamudin Yunus to the Federal Court in 2013.
Hishamudin’s promotion to the Federal Court was recommended by Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) in 2013 but his elevation was blocked by the Prime Minister.
This is a clear case of Executive interference with the independence, impartiality, integrity and professionalism of the judiciary which the Judicial Appointments Commission Act 2009 was enacted by Parliament to overcome so as to ensure unbiased selection and elevation judges.
Hishamudin, who retired this month after 42 years in the judicial and legal service, was one of the longest-serving judges at the High Court, where he was appointed as a judicial commissioner in 1992 and then confirmed in October 1994, before his elevation to the Court of Appeal in April 2009.
It can be said without fear of contradiction that Justice Hishamudin is one of the very few judges in recent times whom Malaysians can be proud of, which is a sad commentary on the state of the judiciary and justice in Malaysia when judges of the calibre, integrity, independence and respect for the law and Constitution like Justice Hishamudin should be the rule instead of being a rare exception in the country.
How many judges are there who are in the league of Justice Hishamudin?
Since the first assault on the independence of the judiciary in 1998 with the sacking of the then Lord President, Tun Salleh Abas and two Supreme Court judges, Tan Sri Wan Sulaiman Pawanteh and Datuk George Seah by the then Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysian judiciary has never recovered its high repute and standing for its quality, independence, integrity and professionalism whether in national or international circles.
The Judicial Appointments Commission Act should be amended in the forthcoming Parliament to ensure that the form of Prime Ministerial interference with the independence, integrity and professionalism of the judiciary like Najib’s blocking of Justice Hishamudin’s elevation to the Federal Court in 2013 could not recur.
Will this be on the agenda of the de facto Law Minister Nancy Shukri in the coming Parliament?
(Media Conference Statement at Jalan SP Chelliah, Penang on Sunday, 20th September 2015 at 12 noon)