PETALING JAYA: Sarawak PKR has taken Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders in Sabah and Sarawak to task for their apparent silence in the ongoing controversy over Putrajaya not opting for Richard Malanjum to be the next chief justice.
Its chairman Baru Bian said Malanjum, who is currently the chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak, is more senior than Raus Sharif and Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, whose respective tenures as chief justice and Court of Appeal president were extended recently beyond the maximum retirement age of 66.
“We have yet to hear from the chief ministers of Sabah and Sarawak, and the BN leaders their views on this grossly unfair sidelining of Tan Sri Richard Malanjum,” Baru said.
He said they should make a stand on the matter, putting East Malaysian interests first instead of their loyalty to their “political masters”.
“Speak up for fairness and justice, and for our rights as equal partners in the Federation of Malaysia.
“If you fail to speak up for Richard Malanjum, you fail all Sabahans and Sarawakians,” he said in a statement today.
Baru said Prime Minister Najib Razak and the Conference of Rulers had not given a rationale for the extension of the chief justice, adding that expert opinions had been given on “the undesirability and the unconstitutionality” of the move.
“Is there any acceptable reason when we have in Richard Malanjum an ideal person for the post, in both seniority and capability?
“It is widely known that he is even more senior than the current chief justice and the president of the Court of Appeal,” he said.
Baru claimed that Malanjum, 65, a Kadazan born in Tuaran, Sabah, was sidelined as a result of the extension of Raus’ tenure.
“We must question why Sabah and Sarawak are treated with such disrespect,” he said.
“In the absence of an acceptable explanation, the inescapable conclusion is that we are but the poor cousins and the fixed deposits, useful only to fund West Malaysian development and securing the BN victory during the elections, and to be ignored the rest of the time,” he said.
He also said there are no judges from the Borneo states in the federal court and only three – one from Sabah and two from Sarawak – in the Court of Appeal.
Baru said the situation was not because the East Malaysian states lacked qualified people, but was due to “conditioning” among Malaysians that Sarawakians and Sabahans are not good enough and have to contend to being “second-class Malaysians” with no rights to participate fully in the country’s administration except in the lower ranks.
“And the most humiliating thing is that our leaders have accepted this treatment for decades without so much as a whimper,” he said.
Baru said there was also a dearth of Sabahans and Sarawakians appointed to other posts in government ministries and government-linked companies.