(Petaling Jaya, Friday): The nation and the world have high expectations that Malaysia, under the new Chief Justice of the Federal Court Tan Sri Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah, would start the difficult but important task to restore public confidence in the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary, especially as Dzaiddin had courageously declared on assuming the highest judicial office in the land that this would be his first priority.
Dzaiddin had said that he would set in motion his plans for the judiciary in the next two years after chairing a judges meeting tomorrow for feedback on the current affairs of the judiciary.
One of the preconditions for the success of Dzaiddin’s plan to restore public confidence in the judiciary is full support not only from the other branches of government and the civil society, but the judiciary as well.
For this reason, the first judicial conference under new Chief Justice tomorrow should send out a clear message to the nation and the world of the judiciary’s collective resolve and commitment to give Dzaiddin full support in the agenda to restore public confidence in the judiciary, coupled with action plans to bring about such a restoration.
It would be most unfortunate if Dzaiddin is a mere minority in the judiciary which is of the view that public confidence in the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary had been gravely impaired in the past 12 years and that one of the greatest national challenges of the country is to restore public confidence in a truly independent judiciary and a just rule of law.
Without the support of the entire judiciary or at least the overwhelming majority of the judiciary, Dzaiddin’s agenda to restore public confidence in the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary will run into heavy resistance and incurs the risks of failure.
As judicial independence and impartiality are not private rights of judges but the fundamental rights of all Malaysians as they constitute the cornerstone of a just rule of law, the Judges’ Conference tomorrow should also send out a clear signal that the judges acknowledge individually and collectively their responsibility to protect, encourage and defend judicial independence and impartiality and how they propose to implement this commitment.