Bar: 2 motions for debate at EGM on judges’ appointments

George-Varughese-egmPETALING JAYA: Two motions, including one by the Bar Council, will be debated at the Malaysian Bar extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on Thursday on the government’s decision to extend the tenure of two top judges.

Bar president George Varughese said the first motion on “Upholding the supremacy of the Federal Constitution and defending the independence and integrity of the judiciary”, was proposed by him on behalf of the council.

He said the second motion, “To protect judicial independence in Malaysia and ensure all safeguards, especially security of tenure, remain strong and uncompromised”, came from lawyers Charles Hector, Francis Pereira and R Shanmugam.

“The council will implement the resolutions should both the motions be carried through by members with a simple majority vote,” he told FMT.

The EGM would be held at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall from 4pm and the quorum required to start the meeting is 500 members.

On July 8, the council decided to hold the EGM, a day after the government announced that Chief Justice Raus Sharif and Court of Appeal president Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin would be made additional judges to remain in their current positions.

The prime minister’s office, in a statement, said Raus would continue to hold his position for another three years from Aug 4, while Zulkefli would continue for another two years from Sept 28.

Both had been scheduled to retire as they turn 66 this year.

A similar EGM was convened three decades ago when then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad suspended six judges, including Lord President Salleh Abas, triggering a prolonged judiciary crisis.

While the Malaysian Bar has described the appointments as “blatantly unconstitutional, the Sabah Law Society and the Advocates Association of Sarawak have urged Raus and Zulkefli to consider whether they should remain in office as public confidence could dent the judiciary’s image.

Meanwhile, Varughese said the Bar has extended invitations to their counterparts from the Borneo states to attend the EGM.

“They will be given observer status to follow the closed-door proceeding,” he said.