PH to discuss ways to stop judges’ appointments

izzah-judgesPUTRAJAYA: Pakatan Harapan (PH) will meet this week to discuss a plan of action to stop the appointments of two top judicial officers to retain them in their administrative posts, PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar said.

“We will meet to discuss what other actions to take apart from a motion that will be filed by the opposition leader in the Dewan Rakyat later this month,” she told FMT.

Nurul Izzah was in the Court of Appeal today to follow proceedings of a defamation appeal against her by National Feedlot Corporation Sdn Bhd (NFCorp) and its executive chairman Mohamad Salleh Ismail.

They had lost their suit against her over a statement regarding the purchase of eight units of properties at KL Eco City.

Nurul Izzah, who is the Lembah Pantai MP, said the extension of the appointment of Chief Justice Raus Sharif and Court of Appeal President Zulkelfi Ahmad Makinudin was a serious assault on the independence of the judiciary and the doctrine of separation of powers.

“One wonders why the appointments were made in such a manner,” she said.

Opposition leader Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said in a statement on Saturday the four-party opposition coalition would appeal to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to “take a firm position” following protests from former judges and senior lawyers over Putrajaya’s move to extend the tenures of Raus and Zulkefli.

Dr Wan Azizah said she would move a motion in the Dewan Rakyat calling for the extensions to be nullified.

Separately, Amanah said yesterday it might want to file a judicial review to challenge the government’s decision on the appointments and extensions.

Nurul Izzah said PH would support Amanah’s plan to seek legal redress.

On Friday, Prime Minister Najib Razak’s office announced in a statement that Raus would continue to be chief justice for another three years from Aug 4 while Zulkefli would have his appointment as Court of Appeal president extended for two years from Sept 28.

Raus is scheduled to retire on Aug 3 and Zulkefli on Sept 27 after attaining the age of 66 years and six months, the maximum retirement age for judges.

The statement said the appointments of Raus and Zulkefli as additional judges was based on the suggestion and advice of former chief justice Arifin Zakaria to the king on March 30 before he retired.

Their service as chief justice and Court of Appeal president was extended under Article 122B(1) of the Federal Constitution.

The statement said the appointments for these posts were made by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the prime minister and after consultation with the Conference of Rulers.

Former chief justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad had publicly advised that a further extension to Raus’ tenure would be unconstitutional.

Similar opinions were expressed by former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram, former de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim and current Malaysian Bar president George Varughese.