Press Statement by Karpal Singh in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 14th November 2008:

Parliamentary Caucus on the Intergrity and Independence of the Judiciary - First meeting next week

I am somewhat shocked that the Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club (BBC), in a statement issued by itís chairman, Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, that none of its members will participate in the recently formed parliamentary caucus on the integrity and independence of the judiciary despite Minister in the Prime Ministerís Department, Datuk Seri Mohamad Nazri Abdul Aziz advising Barisan Nasional MPís to join it.

Nazri attended the inaugural meeting of the setting up of the caucus in parliament house yesterday. Nazri reminded Barisan Nasional MPís that it was a parliamentary caucus, and not an opposition caucus, saying that integrity was also an issue that the Barisan promoted.

Obviously, the BBC has chosen to defy Nazriís advice for Barisan Nasional MPís to join the caucus.

In any event, as chairman of the caucus, I will be calling for its first meeting next week in view of the urgency of the matter, particularly, having regard to the issue relating to newly-appointed Chief Justice, Malaysia Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi which has been widely reported in the last few days.

The government has indicated that the proposed Judicial Commission on the appointment of judges will be set up soon. The government should go further than this. What should be set up is a Judicial Commission on the appointment and promotion of judges. The commission should be made up personalities of caliber appointed by the Yang Di Pertuan Agong. The present system in the appointment of judges on the advice of the Prime Minister leads to abuse as, clearly, shown in the appointment of Tan Sri Zaki as Chief Justice despite protests and the fact that he was an UMNO legal adviser and vice-chairman of the UMNO disciplinary committee before his appointment.

* Karpal Singh, DAP National Chairman & MP for Bukit Gelugor