PETALING JAYA: Former de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim today urged opposition lawmakers including Barisan Nasional MPs from Sabah and Sarawak to nominate Richard Malanjum for the position of chief justice, following the controversy surrounding the government’s extension to Raus Sharif to remain in the top judicial post.
Zaid said the senior judge was the most suitable candidate for the post, adding that his ethnic background should not come in the way.
“Richard Malanjum is an exemplary judge deserving the highest post,” said Zaid.
“He must not be bypassed because he is a Christian, or because he is not a Malay.”
Zaid’s call comes a week after Sarawak DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen said Parliament should urge Prime Minister Najib Razak to advise the Agong to appoint Malanjum as the next Chief Justice of the Federal Court.
Raus’ extension was criticised by the legal fraternity, with senior lawyers and former top judges questioning its constitutionality.
They also said Raus’ extension gave the message that the current senior judges were not competent enough for the post.
Chong had said that Malanjum, the Chief Judge of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak since 2006, is the most senior Federal Court judge surpassing the seniority of even Raus who was only appointed to the Federal Court in 2009.
“On consideration of meritocracy and the principle of equal partners between West Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak, and to avoid a constitutional crisis of having an unconstitutional Chief Justice of the Federal Court, it is time that a non-Malayan be appointed to the highest judicial position in the country,” he said in a motion he submitted last week to discuss the issue in the Dewan Rakyat.
Zaid said Malanjum’s appointment would be a testimony of equality and respect under the Malaysia Agreement 1963, which brought in Sabah and Sarawak into the federation.
He said there was no need to “go all the way” to London to understand the agreement, if East Malaysians were too afraid to “fight for what’s fair and just”.
” It’s in your hands. The spirit of 63 is equality and mutual respect,” said Zaid.
The Sarawak government is despatching a fact-finding mission to the United Kingdom to study documents related to MA63, as part of efforts to demand Sarawak’s rights under the federation.