Chief Justice should ensure that all parties in a case are given prior notice of the quorum of the judges whether Federal Court or Court of Appeal who will preside over their appeals

Media Comment
after attending the morning session of Anwar Ibrahim’s Federal Court Appeal
by Lim Kit Siang

(Putrajaya Palace of Justice, Monday): I am surprised  by the statement by Anwar Ibrahim’s counsel Christopher Fernando in court this morning that they only knew when the Federal Court sat as to who are the judges who would constitute the quorum to preside over the appeal. 

Christopher said this was the reason why he had to make a spur-of-the-moment application for two of three of the judges on the Federal Court quorum, Federal judge Abdul Hamid Mohamad and Court of Appeal justice Tengku Baharudin Shah Tengku Mahmud to disqualify themselves from hearing the case without having the time to first discuss the matter with the Attorney-General or the judges concerned in chamber.


Such inefficiency and inconsiderateness is a blot in the  administration of  justice, which must be reformed and modernized.  I call on the Chief Justice, Tan Sri Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim to ensure that all parties in a  case  are given prior notice of the quorum of the judges whether Federal Court or Court of Appeal who will preside over their appeals, which should be the time when the date of such an appeal is fixed and  announced.  This is basic  courtesy and elementary justice.


There is no reason for hiding the identity of the judges who will constitute the quorum of the Federal Court or the Court of Appeal until the day of appeal hearing itself – which goes against the very precepts of justice and efficiency.


The monumental Palace of Justice in Putrajaya must have greatly impressed the strong phalanx of representatives from the international legal and judicial community, as well as foreign diplomatic corps assembled in the Federal Court today because of the  keen global interest in the Anwar Ibrahim case – but I do not think the Malaysian system of justice scored any points  in terms of efficiency and justice when it is learnt that Anwar and his counsel only knew of the identity of the Federal Court judges presiding over the appeal when the court convened this morning!


Last week, the UMNO MP for Kota Baru, Zaid Ibrahim, said Parliament must address fundamental concerns like restoring confidence in the judiciary, whether  to improve the administration of justice or  a transparent process for  judicial appointments.


DAP welcomes the commitment of  Zaid Ibrahim and like-minded MPs from the Barisan Nasional  to ensure that the new Parliament will play a more activist and influential  role specifically to restore public confidence in a truly independent judiciary and a just rule of law.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman & Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor