RCI is the chance to reform judiciary

Bar president George Varughese (Bernama Pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Bar says the government must seize the opportunity to address allegations of judicial interference and misconduct following its decision to set up a royal commission of inquiry (RCI).

Its president, George Varughese, said the Bar is confident that the RCI members, who are yet to be announced, would execute their important work with the greatest dedication and integrity.

“We reiterate our call to the government to expand the terms of reference of the RCI to include recommending holistic proposals for comprehensive reforms to strengthen the institution of the judiciary,” he said in a statement.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad yesterday said the Cabinet had agreed to the setting up of the RCI and the terms of reference and its composition were being finalised.

This follows the revelation of judicial impropriety in an explosive affidavit last week by Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer

The 65-page document was filed in support of lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo’s application to declare that the chief justice had failed to defend the integrity and credibility of the judiciary over two alleged incidents of judicial interference.

Varughese said the Bar was mindful that the independence and integrity of the judiciary were essential to uphold the rule of law and instil public confidence.

“We therefore urge all parties to demonstrate respect and support for the RCI and the weighty mandate entrusted to it by refraining from speculating or making adverse comments on the allegations made by Hamid until the RCI concludes its investigation and its findings are revealed,” he said.

Varugese said the Bar stands ready to assist the RCI and would make available all the expertise and resources it could muster.