Sarawak lawyers group calls for top 2 judges to step down

PETALING JAYA: The pressure is mounting on Chief Justice Raus Sharif and Court of Appeal president Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin to vacate their offices, with the Advocates Association of Sarawak (AAS) joining the calls for their resignations.

AAS president Ranbir Singh Sangha said given the recent developments in the country, it had become untenable for them to continue holding their current posts.

“The AAS also believes that if they can resign immediately, then it would be an honourable act on their part,” he said in a statement.

Advocates Association of Sarawak president Ranbir Singh Sangha.

Ranbir said given the calls for their resignation reported in the media, Raus and Zulkefli should at the very least inform the people whether they were going to step down and when they intended to do so.

“There is no point keeping Malaysians waiting for an answer,” he added.

Ranbir said AAS maintained the view that Raus and Zulkefli should announce their resignations with immediate effect as they were serving in their present positions beyond the mandatory retirement age of 66 years and six months as prescribed in the Federal Constitution.

Yesterday, FMT reported that Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s chief adviser Daim Zainuddin was said to have demanded the resignations of Raus and Zulkelfi in a meeting last week.

However, retired judge Gopal Sri Ram criticised Daim for applying pressure, saying it was unconstitutional and wrong for a person other than the prime minister to summon the chief justice or any other judge for any reason.

FMT has attempted to contact Raus over the matter, but he has yet to respond.

Sri Ram also criticised the two judges for meeting Daim and accepting new contracts beyond the mandatory retirement age, saying this had caused them to be subjected to humiliation and to be “treated no better than office boys”.

Sri Ram had repeatedly asked the two to resign to avoid embarrassment and undue pressure on the seven Federal Court judges who are deciding on the complaints brought by the AAS and the Malaysian Bar.

Bar president George Varughese in a statement on May 16 also called on Raus and Zulkefli to step down as the Barisan Nasional government that recommended and defended their appointments was no longer in power.

A day earlier, Mahathir met Raus and Zulkefli at the Perdana Leadership Foundation, but it is unclear what transpired.

Last year, Mahathir filed a judicial review to declare their appointments unlawful, but the action was dismissed. He has since filed an appeal.

Raus and Zulkefli were appointed to their positions on April 1 last year, and were scheduled to retire on Aug 3 and Sept 27 respectively upon reaching the mandatory retirement age.

On July 7, however, the previous government announced that Raus would remain in office for three more years from Aug 4, while Zulkefli would remain in his post for two more years from Sept 28.

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