By LIM KIT SIANG
COMMENT: The 10 Cabinet Ministers and 57 MPs from Sabah and Sarawak should meet before Parliament reconvenes on Monday – July 24 – to work out a strategy to ensure that the first appointment of a Chief Justice from Sabah and Sarawak in the sixth decade of the formation of Malaysia should not be voided and by-passed.
The unconstitutional extension of the tenures of Raus Sharif and Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin as Chief Justice and Court of Appeal President on August 3 and Sept. 27 respectively will be detrimental to the cause of Malaysian nation building.
The by-passing of the opportunity for the appointment of the first Chief Justice from Sabah/Sarawak will be exploited by those in Sabah and Sarawak who are attacking the Federal Government in Putrajaya as too Peninsular-centric and unable to take full account of the vision of Malaysia as a federation where the rights and interests of Sabah and Sarawak are given full respect and recognition.
The unconstitutional extension of the tenures of Raus and Zulkefli is totally indefensible, undermining not only the sanctity and integrity of the Malaysian Constitution and the vision of Malaysia as a federation where Sabah and Sarawak are fully integrated and not treated as step-brothers, it would also undermine the promotional opportunities and prospects of at least eight Federal Court judges, including three women!
As the most glaring injustice of the unconstitutional extension of the tenures of Raus and Zulkefli is the by-passing of the opportunity to appoint the first Chief Justice from Sabah and Sarawak in the person of Richard Malanjum. I call on all Barisan Nasional Ministers and MPs from Sabah and Sarawak to take a common and united stand with Pakatan Harapan MPs for the appointment of Malanjum as the new Chief Justice of Malaysia.
Let not the voiding and by-passing of the opportunity for the appointment of the first Chief Justice of Malaysia from Sabah and Sarawak become a real-life example of how Sabah and Sarawak are treated as step-children in the Malaysian scheme of things.
This would be a most unfortunate setback for Malaysian nation-building, especially in the welding of Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region or even politics into one Malaysian people.
Malanjum is most qualified from every aspect to become the new Chief Justice of Malaysia on August 3.
Malanjum is in fact the most senior Federal Court judge today, even more senior than both Raus and Zulkefli, both of whom were appointed to the Federal Court in 2011.
Malanjum should not be by-passed in the appointment as the Chief Justice on August 3 as it will be a serious affront to the vision and concept of Malaysia as a nation for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region, as well as a major blot in the forthcoming celebrations for the 60th National Day anniversary on August 31 and the 54th Malaysia Day anniversary on Sept. 16.
The question that must be asked is what is the use of having one-third or 10 out of 35 Cabinet Ministers and 57 parliamentary seats from Sabah and Sarawak if none of the Barisan Nasional Ministers and MPs is prepared to stand up for constitutional and MH63 rights to oppose the voiding and by-passing of Justice Malanjum as Chief Justice of Malaysia.
Article 122B(1) of the Federal Constitution provides that the Chief Justice of the Federal Court and the President of the Court of Appeal shall be appointed by the Yang di Pertuan Agong, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister, after consulting the Conference of the Rulers.
In the two cases of the extension of the tenures of Chief Justice and the Court of Appeal President, the Prime Minister had clearly given the wrong advice to the Yang di Pertuan Agong.
This matter should be raised by one of the 10 Ministers from Sabab and Sarawak at the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, as the Prime Minister had given a wrong advice to the Yang di Pertuan Agong, denying and voiding the opportunity of appointing the first Chief Justice from Sabah and Sarawak, which is totally indefensible in terms of Malaysian nation-building.
The Cabinet on Wednesday should consider how to avert the constitutional crisis in voiding and by-passing the appointment of the first Chief Justice of Malaysia from Sabah/Sarawak.
If the Cabinet on Wednesday is not prepared to do anything to restore justice to Sabah and Sarawak as well as to Justice Malanjum, there should a meeting of all Sabah and Sarawak Ministers and Members of Parliament, as well as Pakatan Rakyat MPs who uphold constitutional sanctity and integrity, to agree on a strategy on the issue for the three-week Parliamentary meeting from July 24 to August 10, 2017. – Lim Kit Siang blog