No special treatment for high profile cases, says CJ

Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat

PUTRAJAYA: High profile cases are not treated any differently than other cases, newly appointed Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat said today.

Tengku Maimun said that as far as the court was concerned, high profile cases are to be treated like any ordinary cases, giving the example of a case having to proceed once a date has been fixed.

“It is likely that public expectation makes the case different compared to other cases. But from the court’s point of view, the case is not to be treated any differently.

“In terms of procedure, whatever that should happen in ordinary cases similarly apply to high profile cases,” she told a press conference at the Palace of Justice.

She was asked to comment on possible challenges arising from high profile cases, such as former prime minister Najib Razak’s ongoing money laundering trial as well as the royal commission of inquiry into Wang Kelian.

Tengku Maimun said that gender was not a factor when asked whether she felt any pressure as the nation’s first female chief justice.

“If there is any pressure, it is the position itself. It is a big responsibility. Whether it is a man or a woman holding the position, it is the same.

“We have to carry out our tasks to the best of our ability,” she said, adding that age also did not play a major factor.

She is the youngest to assume the top post, after Suffian Mohamed Hashim, who became chief justice at the age of 57 in 1974. Suffian was CJ until 1982.

Tengku Maimun, who was appointed a judicial commissioner at the Kuala Lumpur High Court in 2006, was confirmed as a High Court judge in 2007 and a Court of Appeal judge in 2013.

She was appointed a Federal Court judge on Nov 26 last year.

On bypassing many of her senior colleagues to become chief justice, Tengku Maimun said this was not a position she had applied for.

“It is a blessing from Allah. Even though I am more junior, I do not think the seniors I have overtaken feel uncomfortable.

“As Muslims, we believe it is God’s will. If it is meant to be for us, it will be for us,” she said.

Tengku Maimun was also of the view that giving more dissenting judgments was not a necessary criterion to be appointed or promoted as a judge.

“There are many other criteria. Independence, the ability to make decisions based on facts and existing statements, without considering other factors.

“Integrity is also important. One needs to be competent and have a fair and good knowledge of the law,” she added.