April 18, 2008
PAKATAN Rakyat leaders were of one voice in welcoming Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s moves for judicial reforms but agreed that it was but a first step in the restoration of the judiciary’s independence. Much more needs to be done, they said.
Opposition Leader Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the Opposition had long debated the setting up of the Judicial Commission.
“Alhamdullilah (Thank God), it has materialised, but it should have been made so much earlier,” she said.
“The Government can apologise (to the six judges) but it is up to them whether to accept the apology (for the sacking).”
Dr Wan Azizah felt that whatever Abdullah’s motives were for pushing for judicial reforms, it was a good start.
PAS secretary-general Datuk Kamaruddin Jaafar lauded the Government’s first step, saying that it “sounded good”.
However, he wanted more detailed descriptions of the proposed changes.
“We want to make sure that there are adequate safeguards, so that corruption and abuses, and misconduct of the whole judiciary can be really checked,” he said.
“We also want to look forward to an efficient judiciary and hope the Prime Minister will work towards a genuine separation of powers between the executive and the judiciary.”
DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang welcomed the long overdue judicial reforms, in particular the ex-gratia payments to the six wronged judges in the 1988 judicial crisis.
“However, I think it is inadequate because I think the victims are not only the six but the entire nation,” he said, adding that the Malaysian judicial system “made us the laughing stock of the world”.
Lim felt that compensation should not stop at ex-gratia payments but full restoration of their entitlement.
PKR vice-president Sivarasa Rasiah said that the party was happy that the Prime Minister had taken the position that it had been advocating for years.
“But, ultimately, the effectiveness of any judicial commission will only be seen in its implementation – i.e. its composition and transparency,” he said.