PETALING JAYA: The legal fraternity today hailed Richard Malanjum’s appointment as chief justice, saying it was a timely recognition of his qualities as a judge.
Calling his appointment “significant”, the Sabah Law Society (SLS) said Malanjum would have an opportunity to create a positive and lasting impact on the Malaysian justice system.
“No doubt he will help promote the cause of justice, uphold the rule of law and protect the rights of the public,” SLS president Brenndon Keith Soh told FMT.
He added that SLS looked forward to working with Malanjum and would extend its fullest support and cooperation.
Malanjum, 65, was a private practitioner in Sabah before being elevated to the bench in 1993.
Last night, he took his oath of office and received his instrument of appointment from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong at Istana Negara.
Retired judge Gopal Sri Ram said Malanjum, who had been chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak since 2006, deserved the appointment as he was the most senior member of the Federal Court bench.
“He is also a lawman, and his interest in the law is paramount. He is an avid reader,” Sri Ram said.
He said Malanjum was also a good administrator and was best remembered for clearing up the huge backlog of cases after being appointed as a judge at the Kuching High Court.
“His appointment verifies the oneness of Malaysia,” he said.
Former Bar Council president Ragunath Kesavan said Malanjum’s appointment showed that the authorities had finally recognised the principle of seniority and meritocracy among judges.
“In the present political climate, Malanjum’s appointment shows the inclusiveness of the new federal government,” he added.
Former chief judge of Malaya Ahmad Maarop was appointed Court of Appeal president while Federal Court judge David Wong Dak Wah is the new chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak.
Another Federal Court judge, Zaharah Ibrahim, was appointed as chief judge of Malaya, but she was not present to receive her instrument of appointment as she is currently overseas.
In accordance with provisions in the Federal Constitution, Ahmad and Wong will take their oath of office before the most senior judge of their respective jurisdictions in Putrajaya this afternoon before performing their administrative duties.
The vacancies arose following the resignation of Raus Sharif and Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin as chief justice and Court of Appeal president.