PH leaders ask Agong to intervene in top judicial appointments


KUALA LUMPUR: Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders today submitted a memorandum to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V seeking his intervention to stop the reappointments of the top two judges, which they claim are unconstitutional.

Speaking to reporters after handing in the memorandum at Istana Negara, PH chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad said based on the Federal Constitution, the tenure of the Chief Justice and Court of Appeal President could not be extended once the incumbents reached the age of 66 years and 6 months.

He also said that the two appointments were made by the Agong on the advice of the prime minister, hence the Agong had the right to present the matter to the courts for a decision before they came into effect.

“The extension of Chief Justice Md Raus Sharif’s tenure comes into force in two days.

“If this matter isn’t addressed immediately, it could result in a judicial crisis as all trials or decisions after Aug 4 will become invalid.

“It will also cripple the judiciary’s administrative system, headed by the Chief Justice, as it will not be managed by a legitimate judge under the constitution,” he told reporters outside the palace grounds.

Mahathir, accompanied by other PH leaders Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa and Lim Kit Siang, went in to submit the memorandum to the Agong, and spent about 30 minutes inside.

Mahathir also said that under Article 130 of the Federal Constitution, only the Agong could refer constitutional issues to the Federal Court for adjudication.

He said the opposition leaders asked the Agong to exercise his discretionary powers to refer to the Federal Court to decide the validity of the reappointments of the Chief Justice and Court of Appeal President.

“This is to ensure the Agong can preserve the supremacy of the Malaysian Constitution and prevent it from being tarnished in the interest and well-being of the people and nation,” he added.

The Malaysian Bar recently slammed the reappointments of Raus and Court of Appeal President Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin beyond the age limit provided in the constitution.

The two judges are due to retire this month and in September, respectively.

Bar president George Varughese said the appointments were unprecedented and unconstitutional.

Raus was appointed last April 1 as the 14th Chief Justice, succeeding Arifin Zakaria who retired on March 31 on reaching the age of 66 years and six months.

The retirement age for judges is 66 years but their tenure may be extended for a maximum of another six months.

The service of Raus was extended for six months when he reached the normal retirement age while he was still the Court of Appeal President before his elevation to the Chief Justice’s post.