KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 14 — The Yang Dipertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan Tuanku Muhriz Tuanku Munawir has proposed the introduction of diverse and independent mechanisms when it comes to the selection of five eminent persons on the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC).
His Royal Highness said the persons selected must not only be independent of any form of political influence but also be inclusive, reflecting the diversity of our multi-racial society and the composition of our Federation, namely the Peninsular Malaysia states, Sabah and Sarawak.
“The inclusion of members from diverse and independent backgrounds will allow more stakeholders to be represented, thus, broadening the expertise in the judicial appointments process whilst maintaining the Commission’s independence. I have been advised that it is equally important for the JAC Act 2009 to be made part of the Federal Constitution and not remain as an Act of Parliament,” Tuanku Muhriz said.
His Royal Highness said this in his royal address during the official book launch of ‘Upholding The Federal Constitution: The Judicial Thoughts Of Datuk Seri Hishamudin Yunus’ here today.
Also present were Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimum Tuan Mat and more than 30 judges of the Federal Court, Court of Appeal and High Court as well as Judicial Commissioners.
Tuanku Muhriz also urged civil society and other stakeholders to take the lead for meaningful discussions to achieve the aspiration of judicial independence as a means to uphold the Federal Constitution, the supreme law of the land.
“Lest we forget, the rakyat go to court to seek and obtain justice. Be it a criminal appeal, an appeal against the decision of the government or one of its agencies, or a private matter, the public sees the courts as their avenue to seek Justice,” His Royal Highness said.
During his address as the chairman of the 260th Ruler’s Conference on Nov 30, Tuanku Muhriz had emphasised on the need to reform the existing judicial appointment process.
In his speech today, His Royal Highness further said whilst the primary intention of the Commission is to uphold the independence of the judiciary, it appears that its governing provisions may not be in accordance with such intent.
“As it stands, the Prime Minister appoints five of the nine members of the seven Commission. Under the Constitution, he also has the final say in the appointment of judges to the superior courts.
“We need to be guided by the principle of separation of powers of the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. To achieve this, some reforms need to be considered to strengthen the independence of the Commission, and ultimately the Judiciary,” Tuanku Muhriz said.
His Royal Highness added that independence is the essence of the Judiciary, hence, it is imperative that judicial independence is always maintained and protected.
Tuanku Muhriz said Judges are bound to uphold their judicial oath steadfastly and constantly remind themselves that their decisions have a profound impact on society and thus, the appointment of independent and competent judges is crucial to ensuring that this aim is met.
Meanwhile, His Royal Highness hailed Hishamudin, a former Court of Appeal judge who had given life to many provisions in the Federal Constitution, especially those relating to fundamental rights.
“His years on the bench are remembered for his integrity and independence, which paved his unwavering commitment to uphold the supremacy and sanctity of the Federal Constitution.
“His decisions, including his many significant dissenting judgments, are based on his appreciation of the law, where he had elegantly embraced the ever evolving common law principles and applied them judiciously with the sole aim of delivering justice without fear or favour,” Tuanku Muhriz said.
According to His Royal Highness , a good judge must also demonstrate patience and compassion in the decision-making process and in this context, Hishamudin was a judge who possessed all these essential qualities that have made him stand out as a respected judge.