In his reply, Rais said that violations of the Judges’ Code of Ethics are divided into two categories, serious and less serious. If serious, the Prime Minister or the Chief Justice after consulting the Prime Minister can make representation to the Yang di Pertuan Agong to appoint a tribunal to investigate the violation of the Judges’ Code of Ethics. On the other hand, if the violation belongs to the "not serious" category, oral reprimand would be adequate.
He said that complaints of violations of the Judges’ Code of Ethics are made to the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, President of the Court of Appeal or the two Chief Judges of Malaya and Borneo, while complaints against the Chief Justice are made to the Prime Minister.
Rais’ answer is too general and most unsatisfactory. He did not explain for instance what is the mechanism for the receipt and investigation of complaints of violation of the Judges’ Code of Ethics to determine whether they are baseless, "serious" or "less serious".
Rais had also failed to make public the number of complaints to date which had been made against the Chief Justice, Tun Eusoff Chin for violation of the Judges’ Code of Ethics and the outcome of these complaints.
This is most pertinent in view of the Chief Justice being embroiled in the controversy that he had himself violated the Judges’ Code of Ethics and his disregard of public calls that he should clear the cloud of judicial impropriety and misconduct arising from his New Zealand holiday with lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam in December 1994.
This controversy was discussed at length by Abdul Rahman in his adjournment speech in Parliament on Monday but it was completely ignored by Rais in his reply.
The Judges’ Code of Ethics 1994 is a "toothless" code when the Chief Justice himself could ride roughshod over the important principle of judicial accountability by refusing to clear the cloud of judicial impropriety and misconduct hanging over him.
Malaysia should take a leaf from the Canadian experience to uphold judicial accountability and introduce legislation to set up a Judicial Council to consider complaints that judges have violated the Judges’ Code of Ethics 1994.
The Canadian Judicial Council was first set up in 1971 to consider complaints about the conduct of federal judges. The role of the Council involves scrutiny not of a judge’s decisions but of a judge’s behaviour, and its comes into play when a complaint or allegation is made that the judge in some way has breached the requirement of good behaviour, and by his or her conduct "has become incapacitated or disabled from the due execution of the office of judge".