Lawyer moots cooling-off period for retired judges

The Palace of Justice in Putrajaya which houses the Federal Court and Court of Appeal.

KUALA LUMPUR: A lawyer has called for a moratorium period of three years before retired judges are given government-linked appointments.

Syed Iskandar Syed Jaafar Al Mahdzar said judges should not be appointed to the boards of government-linked companies after retiring from the bench, as the appointments would reflect badly on the appointing authorities.

“Any immediate appointment will be seen as the government rewarding the judge,” he told FMT.

He said a better option would be for retired judges to take positions in organisations dealing with the law and human rights, as befitting their experience and expertise. He gave examples such as the Human Rights Commission, Judicial Appointments Commission and Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission.

Last week, former chief judge of Malaya Zaharah Ibrahim was appointed chairman of government-linked, public transport owner and operator Prasarana Group.

She filled the vacancy left by former inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar, who resigned on Aug 17 last year.

Zaharah became chief judge of Malaya on July 17, 2018 and retired in May this year.

In January, former Federal Court judge Zainun Ali was appointed the non-independent, non-executive chairman of Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd.

Zainun, who has held various positions in the legal and judicial service, retired on Oct 4 last year.

Another lawyer, R Kengadaharan, said Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat should also see that judges are paid a higher pension to prevent them from looking for employment immediately after leaving the bench.

“Retired judges should be paid well to maintain their stature in society instead of them immediately returning to law practice or joining the corporate world,” he said.

Kengadharan said they could be utilised by institutions of higher learning to impart their legal knowledge and judicial experience to law students.

He said appointing them to government-linked companies and government-linked investment companies should be out of bounds, warning that ex-judges who take such positions will be seen mere “figure heads” of those organisations.