Saturday, December 13, 2008

REFORMING WITH MALAYSIAKINI: on the fate of Judicial reform

Yes, Our Abdullah Badawi still has a few months left before Najib will come over to the big office. If we remember well, Abdullah cited judicial reforms, and RMK9 as his last card to play among others. Shall we look here in Malaysiakini, what is the acceptance of the new Bill. Pathmawathy wrote Reform bills get mixed responses from MPs in Malaysiakini yesterday.

2 Lets read what Carolyn Hong had to say in her Singapore Straits Time breaking news column [
Abdullah's reform Bills fail to win over criticsStraits Times ]

BARELY a day after Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi unveiled his judicial and anti-corruption reforms, criticism has poured in from all fronts.

It seemed as if no one had a good word for the two Bills presented to Parliament on Wednesday to set up new committees to oversee judicial appointments and the anti-graft battle.

The Bar Council and several respected opinion leaders joined the opposition in voicing criticism. Their complaints revolve mainly around the impression that ultimate power still lies in the hands of the political Executive, with the Bills merely adding layers of expensive bureaucracy. The Prime Minister still has the final say on judicial appointments, and the Attorney-General (A-G) has legal control over corruption prosecutions.

'The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and Judicial Appointments Commission personally presented in Parliament...both fall far short of expectations and the promise of anti-corruption and judicial reforms,' veteran opposition leader Lim Kit Siang wrote in his blog.

Nevertheless, both Bills are expected to be passed by Parliament even with the private misgivings of Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs. BN has enough MPs to carry the Bills even if the opposition walks out.

The opposition may find it hard to vote against the Bills without being seen as anti-reform, but could abstain or walk out. Said opposition Democratic Action Party leader Lim Guan Eng: 'We have reservations but we also recognise that these are important steps forward...but they don't go all the way, only halfway.'

This would be of cheer to Datuk Seri Abdullah, who would be hoping for wholehearted support of the Bills to cement his legacy as a reformist before he retires next March.

His supporters say the Bills create greater transparency, with a recommendations panel for judicial appointments, and three committees with oversight of the Anti-Corruption Commission. They say while the PM decides judicial appointments, he will not be able to ignore the commission's recommendations.

As for criticism that the power of prosecution remains with the A-G, Mr Abdullah said the A-G has delegated all powers administratively to the commission.

Nevertheless, these are unlikely to appease the critics. The Bar Council has said four out of five members of the proposed Judicial Appointments Commission will be appointed by the Prime Minister.

Deputy Premier Najib Razak, who will take over in March, has said he supports the Bills. The real difficulty will be the expectations that come with promises of reform. That burden falls on Mr Najib.

3. Over in Sabah, they have something else to say , [ Sabah council: Judicial bill unconstitutional
New Straits Times ].

The Sabah Justice of Peace Council said that appointment procedure of judges in the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) Bill is contrary to the Federal Constitution.

Council honorary secretary Datuk Lawrence Thien Shin Hing said the new procedure would be a departure from the present model and in direct conflict with Article 122B of the Constitution.

Under Article 122B, a person is appointed judge by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, acting on the advice of the prime minister after consulting the Conference of Rulers.

Before tendering his advice as to the appointment of a judge to the High Court, the prime minister shall consult the chief judge of Malaya or the chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak.

Thien noted that the JAC was not a constitutional amendment but an ordinary federal law compared with the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the federation.
He said in the past, there were several constitutional amendments passed by Parliament which had an impact on the constitutional positions of Sabah and Sarawak.

"In the context of Sabah and Sarawak, the proposed new mode runs contrary to the provision of Article 161E (2)," Thien said in a statement.

Article 161E (2) states that no amendment should be made to the Constitution without the consent of the Yang Dipertua Negeri of Sabah and Sarawak if the proposed amendment affects the rights of the states.

He said the mode in the appointment of judges for the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak was definitely affected with the setting up of the JAC.

"However, if it is allowed to proceed, it will mean that the proposed act is made to circumvent Article 161E (2)."

The question, he said, therefore was: "Should not the two states protect their constitutional safeguards?"

Thien said the government under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Bill had seen fit to make the Anti-Corruption Agency an independent body with its own commission and funding but made no similar provision in the JAC Bill. He hoped the government and members of parliament would give due respect to the issues raised when the bills were debated.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi tabled the bills in the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday.

4. Our blogger friends ride on this judicial reforms issue. [Hopes ride high for judicial reform in Malaysia15 hours ago by WARTAWAN RASMI LAMAN REFORMASI ] [ REFORM?17 hours ago by ALBERT ALEX GULABOK BINGKASAN ] [ Damned either way, reforms appease no one23 hours ag] [Abdullah’s reform bills criticised11 Dec 2008 by truckster ] [Bills reflect govt’s strong commitment, says Najib11 Dec 2008 by Political Guru ] [What Reform, Mr PM?11 Dec 2008 by Eyes Wide Open ]

5. I had been experimenting genetic modification on brinjals, a red brinjal! That is reform that i know best.

Love you Malaysia, Tanah Melayu, tanah airku, ibu pertiwi....