JCA Bill cannot be supported – gives notice to vote againt SSB Bill

The year 2008 is coming to an end. I remember that I had described 2007 as an “annus horribilis” in my 2008 New Year message on 31st December last year.

Malaysians had heaved a sigh of relief at the end of 2007, a year which had opened with such great promise as it was to celebrate the 50th Merdeka anniversary of the nation.

But 2007 proved to be an “annus horribilis” (a horrible year) for Malaysians.

Despite the 50th Merdeka anniversary costing over RM100 million of taxpayers’ money in public celebrations, 2007 proved to be one of the most divisive and troubled year in the half-a-century of Malaysia’s nationhood as well as one of great disappointment as the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi failed in his four-year report card to fulfill the great pledges of reform for which he was given the landslide historic 2004 general election victory in winning over 91 per cent of the parliamentary seats.

The result is the March 8 political tsunami in the last general election nine months ago and the belated promise by Abdullah to fulfill at least three reform pledges before he steps down as Prime Minister in March.

Yesterday, DAP and Pakatan Rakyat MPs supported the passage of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Bill with great reservations and considerable unhappiness, as nobody in government is really convinced that when the bill is implemented, the MACC can rival the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of Hong Kong or Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) or that Malaysia will catapult to be among the world’s ten or second least corrupt nations in the world from the lowly 47th place in the 2008 Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index.

Today, we are debating the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) Bill, representing the second of the three reform packages – but however much we want to support long-overdue efforts to restore the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary, we do not find it possible to support this second reform Bill as it fails to address the root causes of the series of judicial crisis and scandals in the past two decades.

The third “reform” legislation is to be tabled in Parliament next February to fulfill Abdullah’s pledge to create an efficient, incorruptible, professional, world-class police service for which the Dzaiddin Royal Police Commission was formed and whose key proposal was the establishment of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission.

If the Billl to be tabled in February is the same as the Special Complaints Commission Bill (SCC) which was tabled and withdrawn in Parliament last December, where instead of an IPCMC “lion” with teeth and claws, there is instead a toothless and clawless Special Complaints Commission, I must give notice that we will have to reject the third reform bill.

The JAC Bill before the House is totally unsatisfactory and unequal to the task to restore national and international confidence in the independence, impartiality and integrity of the Malaysian judiciary, which was held in high international esteem two decades ago.

I do not want to repeat the many cogent reasons which had been advanced by DAP and Pakatan Rakyat MPs in the debate why the Judicial Appointments Commission as proposed by this Bill is completely unsatisfactory.

Just before this debate, I received the following SMS which emanated from a judge – “whole of KL, shah alam, kelantan, terengganu, pahang perils, johor not even one Chinese magistrate and sessions court judge. Chinese officers all put in AG Chambers in law reform or drafting division! Why like this?”

I leave it to the Minister to respond to this SMS complaint. I just want to note in passing that for close to two-and-half years, there has been no proper multi-racial representation in the Federal Court with not a single Chinese Federal Court judge – which had never happened in Malaysian judicial history before.

I had raised this issue in Parliament before and after the March general election but it has still to be rectified.

The JAC Bill raises a hosts of questions and concerns, including the strong objection that (i) the Prime Minister can disregard the recommendations of the JAC; and (ii) the appointment procedure of judges in the new bill violates the Federal Constitution, particularly with regard to the appointment of judges for Sabah and Sarawak in Articles 122B and 161E(2).

Furthermore, why the JAC is not being created by way of constitutional amendment so that they are given constitutional status and importance.

In fact, JAC Bill, if passed in its present form, risks being challenged as to its constitutionality in the courts.

But the greatest objection to the JAC Bill is the failure to grasp this golden opportunity to address the root causes of the loss of national and international confidence in the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary in the last two decades.

I share the disappointment of the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Dato’ Param Cumarawamy with the JAC bill and who made two salient points:

• Without amending article 121 of the Constitution to restore the doctrine of separation of powers and conferring the judicial power on the courts, judicial independence cannot be secured by merely conferring on the chief executive of the government the duty to uphold judicial independence.

• The power of the Prime Minister to remove the eminent persons in the Judicial Appointments Commission at any time without giving reasons pursuant to clause 9(1) virtually gives legal legitimacy for executive dominance over the judicial arm of the government.

(Speech on the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) Bill in Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday, 17th December 2008)

  1. #1 by All For The Road on Wednesday, 17 December 2008 - 1:24 pm

    There is glaringly a dearth of Chinese Malaysians serving as various categories of judges in our Judiciary as compared to those years before this. What have MCA and Gerakan done to off-set such lop-sided appointments of most judges from only one particular community in our Judiciary?

    In this connection, Chinese Malaysians have been marginalized to serve as judges in our Judiciary! Don’t tell us that there are no suitable and qualified Chinese Malaysian candidates to fill such vacancies! Any denial?

  2. #2 by bentoh on Wednesday, 17 December 2008 - 2:07 pm

    Actually… it doesn’t matter if there’s no Chinese justice in the federal court…

    After all, Judge, chineses or malays, as long as they can uphold the justice in the country… I’m fine… I don’t think Kit should emphasize on this… because Utusan or whatever will just fire back and say you are a Chinese chauvinist (again and again)…

    I support JAC, she’s our first Malaysian Idol!

    but JAC bill? What’s the different between having it or not? I don’t know… and to think that the filthy CJ Zaki to join the commission… something must be wrong…

  3. #3 by DingDongBell on Wednesday, 17 December 2008 - 2:16 pm

    If the judiciary appointment is not independent from the executive, what is the point of having the JAC ?

    You can have another 10 commissions , the concentration of power is still in the hand of the executive. He can appoint his puppets to head the judiciary, and practically become the dictator of Malaysia.

    How can we trust the PM ? people who is holding the highest office can weild the greatest power and subsequently create the greatest evil.

    YB Yit, thanks for watching out the abuse !

  4. #4 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 17 December 2008 - 3:05 pm

    YB Kit,

    Of course JAC Bill will no more achieve Judiciary independence if our “rulers” are determined to interfere, and our electors/voters will not, at the same time, punish these “rulers” for executive interference by evicting them through the ballot box. The same may be said for the MACC Bill and the Special Complaints Commission Bill.

    At the end of the day, Pak Lah is basically interested only in an “honourable” exit; to be seen as not being pushed out prematurely by his own party warlords before he could redeem some of his more salient reform pledges unfulfilled. He is also tired to have to control this unruly mob that is better handled by the those who by natural temperament is Machiavellian, wily, cantakerous, have more financial resources, and ever in the elements when engaged in fights against conspirators and detractors, like his predecessor. So in return for his exist, so that others may quicker move up the food chain, deal is struck to save face by agreeing to support his reforms subject to the reforms being good at form but not in substance and certainly at all costs not disminishing in any way the ruling party’s control over the feudal patronage/largese system of gravy train by which the ruling parties live and breathe as raison de etre.

    The premier also knows whether these reforms become meaningful or not will depend on those who govern, whether, in attitude, they want to continue the same old ways or change depending how they perceive their constituents/voters’ reaction to their ways….

    In the sense of making these reforms meaningful by building in real check and balances to make them work, this is at the presently simply not on the table even if the premier desires it…..Otherwise the warlords will not even support these token bills to save his face.

    The Opposition also knows that whatever the pretensions of these reforms, and whatever the Opposition may legitimately and cogently complain or gripe about their shortcomings, the general direction and thrust of these reforms is something the Opposition could neither resist nor oppose without incurring public perception that the Opposition is reactionary and antithetical towards change ! Hence the Opposition’s dilemma.

    The only good that can come out from the passage of these bills is not that they have real teeth to bite as intended – for they don’t – but that they signal and set the direction and benchmarks relating to judiciary, anti corruption efforts and police towards which the country should be moving to get out of the present travails.

    Which is what Pak Lah’s legacy is ultimately identified with : the setting of benchmarks and directions for governance (where none was clear before) – as distinct from the actual achieving of benchments or arrival at the place intended; how to talk the right things and set our sights to – but not necessarily to walk the talk.

    It will befall his successor and successors’ sucessors to either make good the pledges promised in these half-hearted reforms or make a mockery of them. It will not be something Pak Lah wants to know about as he enjoys his retirement. He just rest content that he has tried what he could, push as far as he could, within the limitations, constraints and realities of the political culture and system of which he inherited, benefited and couldn’t in his tenure, change. Like it is commonly said, if he couldn’t change the system within 5 years with full powers how could he do so in a few short months of transition?

    All he could do is to set the general directions and benchmarks to which we should work towards and if one expects more in terms of achieving milestones rather than setting of benchmarks (around which to work) from these reforms, one will surely be disappointed.

  5. #5 by simon041155 on Wednesday, 17 December 2008 - 4:57 pm

    2007 an “annus horribilis”? Sounds terrible… sounds like “horrible anus”, LOL. 2008 is definitely worst than 2007, with those brainless ISA arrest. Makes 2007 looks like “annus ikan bilis”!

  6. #6 by bentoh on Wednesday, 17 December 2008 - 5:01 pm

    nah… “horrible anus” belongs to Saiful… ;)

  7. #7 by k1980 on Wednesday, 17 December 2008 - 6:21 pm

    “What we need is a simple, independent commission to select people of the highest integrity as judges, and for another commission to catch corrupt crooks and effectively prosecute them,” said a senior lawyer.

    “What we have now are convoluted systems because of numerous compromises made to satisfy political factions … the key aims are lost in the urge to satisfy the entrenched political forces,” the lawyer said. “It was a battle between the weak reformer and the strong entrenched forces. Convoluted, watered-down versions are the result.”


  8. #8 by zak_hammaad on Wednesday, 17 December 2008 - 6:44 pm

    Pakatan should focus on running the states under their control properly instead of wasting time discussing something that is beyond their jurisdiction and control. Prove to the rakyat that you are capable of governing properly and you can take over the admin after the next GE. You can then bring in as many ‘reforms’ as you like!

  9. #9 by Saint on Wednesday, 17 December 2008 - 7:21 pm

    Saudara Lim, Please do not use the word “Chinese” – this is too shallow. The proper word should be “non-Malay”. This encompasses all the other races.

  10. #10 by rubini on Wednesday, 17 December 2008 - 7:36 pm

    Dear Saudara Lim,

    The Nation Malaysia is now going thru her darkest period of her life, at the end of the tuinnel is the Light. This Light will bring to an end the evil ways of the corrupt people.
    The Nation bottomsless pit has gone empty. With oil revenue falling 70% from USD147.00 per barrel, with exports down, inflation raising, falling FDI & rising unemployement, the end of BN is near.
    You have waited almost 40 years, the present Government has 4 years more to go, their end is near. A new beginning is is on the Horizon, so are the hopes & aspiration of a NATION who can be truly great.

    Martin Luther King said “I Have A Dream”. 40 years later Barack OBAMA said ” I Made The Dream”.

  11. #11 by One4All4One on Wednesday, 17 December 2008 - 8:55 pm

    As it is said again, and again…if there is total sincerity on the part of just anybody who is being entrusted to perform a duty, that duty would be done satisfactorily and accepted by all parties, without any complaints, doubts or reservations. And the individuals and parties concern would be accorded due respect and accolades.

    On the other hand, even if there is an inkling a doubt surrounding the matter, all trust, goodwill, satisfaction and optimism would be wiped away in a blink of an eye.

    The bills would serve their purposes and functions if and only if their intended objectives and aims are not compromised, sidetracked or hijacked to make room for ulterior motives and hidden agendas.

    There must be total accountability, integrity, impartiality, transparency, sensibility and objectivity for any processes or procedures to stand out and be consequential at all.

    Else, it would be an act of futility and defeating the purpose of embarking on any mission at all.

    A half-hearted effort is as good as none.

  12. #12 by One4All4One on Wednesday, 17 December 2008 - 8:58 pm

    oops…should have been:

    On the other hand, even if there is an inkling of a doubt surrounding the matter, all trust, goodwill, satisfaction and optimism would be wiped away in a blink of an eye.

  13. #13 by hiro on Wednesday, 17 December 2008 - 9:47 pm

    I read what Nazri said on Malaysiakini. He’s very good with small arguments, such as – we can’t amend the Constitution because that will require your support, and you’ll be up to your tricks. Hello, the whole idea that you BN got whallopped on March 8 is because you refused reform. The opposition has made proposals for a meaningful reform. If you make those reforms, is there reason they won’t support? BN is probably hoping that most Malaysians are gullible enough to believe that these measures are good enough. Well, half measure is bad measure. In the end, the verdict is on BN, not Pakatan. And BN will be judged very very harshly. The people of KT is in a unique position to pass verdict on BN soon. Please make it count.

  14. #14 by sheriff singh on Wednesday, 17 December 2008 - 9:55 pm

    If you all have strong reservations about the MACC, then you should have ABSTAINED instead of grudgingly support it. Or quietly be absent during the voting process. Support is support, period. You all voted for it. So don’t complain, offer excuses, justifications or reasons for your actions. These are not needed.

    So let us see your firm stands, one way or the other, about the coming Bills.

  15. #15 by lee wee tak_ on Wednesday, 17 December 2008 - 11:41 pm

    if before 1 person decide the appointment, now, the legislation makes it that a committee can be overruled by the same person

    this legislation sole achievement is to increase the operating cost of the administration.

  16. #16 by daryl on Thursday, 18 December 2008 - 3:09 am

    Usually, I will not blink an eye on the color of the skin of an official or a jidge or politician or police officer. However, in a multi-racial country you have to give give certain respect to other race for those in majority or give it to those who are qualified for the job. This will make the government look more sincere and willing to work for the benefit of the country.

    But, we all know how this BN government work…. YOu guys can fill in the blank…………

  17. #17 by ringthetill on Thursday, 18 December 2008 - 5:42 am

    They say that the effectiveness of the intention is only as good as its implementation and execution Now that we have both bills passed, we hope for better civic life.
    It is also known that we have never been short of legislations on other matters, but it is their fair execution that fail to deliver the desired results time and again.
    Let’s hope …..

  18. #18 by chengho on Thursday, 18 December 2008 - 7:36 am

    Give MACC and JAC a chance afterall this is what we vote for ..

  19. #19 by HJ Angus on Thursday, 18 December 2008 - 8:16 am

    Welcome to Malaysia Boleh!
    Laws can be passed at the drop of a songkok without any real debates and public meetings.
    I guess most of the population really don’t care and still put their trust in MPs!

  20. #20 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 18 December 2008 - 9:36 am

    I won’t be convinced anything with reform unless Lingam, Vincent Tan, Fairuz etc are all in jail. Period..

  21. #21 by swipenter on Thursday, 18 December 2008 - 9:47 am

    The MACC, JAC and SCC are just like feather dusting the deeply ingrained dirt of corruption, compromised judiciary and inefficient and politicised police force. In order to have a clean transparent and independent police force and judiciary and good governance we need deep cleansing not just dusting to remove the surface dust.

  22. #22 by mata_kucing on Thursday, 18 December 2008 - 9:52 am

    I don’t know, but I get the feeling that the next year under Najib will be worst. I think we “ain’t seen nothin’ yet”. Unless we have a new government of course.

  23. #23 by zak_hammaad on Thursday, 18 December 2008 - 10:23 am

    Racial and religious polarisation has increased since AAB took office in 2003. I think this is due to his weakness as a leader and rushing through ‘reform’ which are carefully thought through! AAB is also incapabe of reigning in divisive forces that have embolden racial/religious extremists from from all sides.

  24. #24 by cintanegara on Thursday, 18 December 2008 - 10:44 am

    DAP finally admit that they are representing a particular ethnic group. Obviously, there is a contradiction between their mission and real action. In actual fact, Bangsa Malaysia is just a gimmick to gain political mileage and obtain support from Rakyat. Unfortunately, this approach doesn’t really work in this country as Rakyat is matured enough to differentiate between genuine diamond and fake sands.

    On the other hand, DAP get so annoyed when others fight for the right of their people. At least the other side has shown their sincerity by declaring their mission/vision officially.

  25. #25 by One4All4One on Thursday, 18 December 2008 - 12:22 pm



    To Catch:


    To solve and arrest:


  26. #26 by bellion on Thursday, 18 December 2008 - 12:23 pm

    cintanegara posted:

    “DAP finally admit that they are representing a particular ethnic group.”

    The DAP represents all ethnic groups.

    Where is the admission by the DAP that they represent only a certain ethnic group?

    Did you pull that out of your rear orrifice?

  27. #27 by One4All4One on Thursday, 18 December 2008 - 12:24 pm

    Over time, the true colours of the chameleon will be revealed.

  28. #28 by zak_hammaad on Thursday, 18 December 2008 - 3:31 pm

    cintanegara, I could not have agreed more with your last post. It is a ground reality that DAP can not seem to fathom.

  29. #29 by undergrad2 on Thursday, 18 December 2008 - 11:43 pm

    “Martin Luther King said “I Have A Dream”. 40 years later Barack OBAMA said ” I Made The Dream”.”

    …and Bush said, “Dream on!”

  30. #30 by AhPek on Friday, 19 December 2008 - 1:42 am

    For a change from this MACC,JAC or SCC thing why don’t you all get to this

    This I guarantee will not disappoint for you’ll find the interviews of these
    courageous Muslim women,Wafe Sultan,GhadaJamshir,Zaynab Hifni,Nonie Daraish and Nadine Al Bedair illuminating and enhance some of our knowledge on what is going on in the Muslim world!

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