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Bar wants ‘original Article 121′ reinstated

 | March 10, 2012

The reinstatement of the Article to its original form would provide a genuine system of check-and-balance, says the Malaysian Bar.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Bar today maintained that Putrajaya should reinstate to the Federal Constitution Article 121(1) which ensures the separation of powers to its original form.

Its president Lim Chee Wee said the issue was again raised in this year’s annual meeting this morning with many members agreeing that the amendments to the law in 1988 had tampered with the balance of power and made the courts subservient to the executive.

He said the Bar – representing more than 13,000 lawyers – had written to the Attorney General on the matter and is looking forward to a fruitful deliberation on pursuing changes to the law in order for a genuine system of check-and-balance to exist in this country.

“Fundamental to a constitutional democracy is the doctrine of separation of powers where there is separation of its sovereign authority between different arms of government.

“This separation of would uphold and safeguard the rights of citizens and ensures that all acts undertaken within Malaysia are consistent with the Federal Constitution,” he said.

The controversial amendments to the law took place under the administration of Dr Mahathir Mohamad amid a judicial fiasco dubbed as the “1988 constitutional crisis”.

The amendments took place just after the courts declared the ruling party Umno illegal following a fractious presidential race that saw Mahathir winning against Tunku Razaleigh Hamzah with a narrow majority.

Mahathir went on to establish “Umno Baru” and subsequently moved to amend Article 121(1). The changes meant judges can only act according to laws made by Parliament.

AG receptive to the proposal

Lim said this amendment gave supreme power to the legislative and the ruling coalition to dictate the courts indirectly with no check-and-balance available.

The Bar Council have often maintained that the reinstatement of Article 121 to its original form would be key to the much needed law reform if Putrajaya is serious about restoring public confidence in the judiciary.

This pursuit, however, has remained futile as the government maintained that there was no need for reform and that the judiciary was indeed independent of the executive and the legislative.

But Lim claimed that he was confident that Putrajaya could soften its stance.

He claimed the AG was “receptive” over the idea, saying he had “personally spoken” to him on the matter.

The AG could not be reached for comments.


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