Eusoff Chin should uphold judicial accountability and not hear any
case or appeal until he has cleared the cloud of judicial impropriety and
misconduct arising from his New Zealand holiday in December 1994
(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): It is most
regrettable Tun Eusoff Chin had disregarded public concerns over his failure
to clear the cloud of judicial impropriety and misconduct arising from
his New Zealand holiday in December 1994 and public calls that he decline
a six-month extension of his service as Chief Justice to protect the good
name of the judiciary.
by Lim Kit Siang
Although Eusoff would continue as Chief Justice for the next six months,
he must be mindful of widespread legitimate public concerns over his failure
to clear the cloud of judicial impropriety and misconduct relating to his
New Zealand holiday in December 1994 and that he had himself violated
the Judges’ Code of Ethics 1994 which he had himself authored.
As Chief Justice, who should be the very personification of justice,
Eusoff should uphold judicial accountability and maintain public confidence
in the judiciary by firstly, not hearing any case or appeal until he has
cleared the cloud of judicial impropriety and misconduct and secondly,
instituting an independent inquiry into the operations of the
Judges’ Code of Ethics in the past five years.
The recent controversy over Eusoff’s controversial New Zealand holiday
had focussed public attention on the question of judicial accountability
raising the question whether judicial accountability is mutually inconsistent
with judicial independence.
The commonly-held view that setting judicial standards of conduct and
making judges accountable for their breach will interfere with the independence
of the judiciary is not sustainable. Judicial independence and accountability
are mutually supportive as the ultimate goal of both concepts is to advance
impartial justice and increase public confidence in the capacity of judges
to do so.
For Malaysia, the Judges’ Code of Ethics 1994 sets out the accountability
of the judges. There should be a review of the Judges’ Code of Ethics to
ascertain whether it had operated satisfactorily in the past five years
and whether it had been satisfactorily formulated.
The public should be invited to give their feedback on the Judges’ Code
of Ethics, in particular as to whether there should be a specific amendment
to provide that "A judge shall avoid impropriety and the appearance
of impropriety in all of the judge’s activities" as is to be found
in the Canons of Judicial Conduct of other judicial systems.
The Judges Code of Ethics 1994, approved on December 4, 1994 and
gazetted three weeks later, states:
1. This code of ethics may be cited as the Judges’ Code of
2. (1) This Code of Ethics shall apply to a judge throughout
the period of his service.
(2) The breach of any provision of this
Code of Ethics may constitute a ground for the removal of a judge from
3. (1) A judge shall not -
(a) subordinate his judicial duties to his private interests;
(2) For the purpose of paragraph (1) (h) "office
hours" means -
(b) conduct himself in such manner as is likely to bring
his private interests into conflict with his judicial duties;
(c) conduct himself in any manner likely to cause a reasonable
suspicion that -
(i) he has allowed his private interests to come into conflict
with his judicial duties so as to impair his usefulness as a judge; or
(d) conduct himself dishonestly or in such manner as to bring
the Judiciary into disrepute or to bring discredit thereto;
(ii) he has used his judicial position for his personal advantage;
(e) lack efficiency or industry;
(f) inordinately and without reasonable explanation delay
in the disposal of cases, the delivery of decisions and the writing of
grounds of judgment;
(g) refuse to obey a proper administrative order or refuse
to comply with any statutory direction;
(h) absent himself from his court during office hours without
reasonable excuse or without prior permission of the Chief Justice, the
President of the Court Appeal of the Chief Judge, as the case may be; and
(i) be a member of any political party or participate in
any political activity.
(a) in a State where Sunday is weekly holiday -
(3) A judge shall, on his appointment or at
any time thereafter as may be required by the Chief Justice, declare in
writing all his assets to the Chief Justice.
(i) Monday to Thursday - 8.00 a.m. to 12.45 p.m. and 2.00
p.m. to 4.15 p.m.;
(b) in a State where Friday is a weekly holiday -
(ii) Friday - 8.00 a.m. to 12.15 p.m. and 2.45 p.m. to 4.15
p.m., except Sabah and Sarawak - 8.00 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. and 2 p.m. to
(iii) Saturday - 8.00 a.m. to 12.45 p.m. and
(i) Saturday to Wednesday - 8.00 a.m. to 12.45 p.m. and 2.00
p.m. to 4.00 p.m.;
(ii) Thursday - 8.00 a.m. to 12.45 p.m.
*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman