Don’t make political comments, Sri Ram tells ex-CJ

PETALING JAYA: A retired judge has taken former chief justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad to task for his statement on the controversy surrounding the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), saying it is inappropriate for Hamid to comment on political, communal or racial issues.

Speaking to FMT, Gopal Sri Ram said this could cast doubt on the independence of the judiciary.

It was a different matter for judges, whether serving or retired, to comment on legal points, he added.

“The public should not get the impression that judges have political inclinations or preferences, because that would call into question the legitimacy of the judgments delivered while they are on the bench,” he said.

Hamid yesterday warned opponents of the ICERD that Putrajaya might make a U-turn on its decision to reject the global anti-discrimination treaty.

Speaking at a forum, he said there were groups which would still put pressure on the Pakatan Harapan government. He said they were unhappy with the special privileges accorded to the Malays and Bumiputeras.

“They won’t stay quiet,” he said, adding that the pressure would continue even if Dr Mahathir Mohamad remains as prime minister.

Sri Ram said judges were supposed to be apolitical.

“Nothing should be said that casts doubt on judicial independence, which is one of the pillars of our constitution,” he added.

“I am surprised by his (Hamid’s) words as he obtained a liberal education from Universiti Malaya in Singapore.”

On Friday, Putrajaya said it would not ratify the ICERD, adding that it was committed to the “social contract” agreed upon by representatives of all races.

Critics of the treaty had said ratifying it would undermine the special position of the Malays, including provisions to allow quotas in public institutions as spelt out in Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.