The debate on the amendments to the Judges’ Remuneration Act 1971.

During the debate to amend this Act, many issues were brought up regarding the judiciary. The issues:

1. The primary purpose of appointing Judicial Commissioners (JC) is to settle back log of cases in Court. In UK, JCs, who are normally experts in their respective fields, are appointed to hear cases which draw on their expertise. But more often than not the appointment of the JCs are not based on this criteria. It would appear that JCs are appointed as ‘probationary judges’ and almost all JCs become appointed full-fledged judges after their 2 years contract.

We should not appoint JCs under such circumstances in Malaysia because they will be seen as probationary judges with no security of tenure. Once they do not have security of tenure, they will be subject to pressure in making their decision.

2. The Prime Minister had announced the setting up of The Judicial Appointment Commission during the Bar Council Dinner on 17-04-2008. YB Datuk Zaid Ibrahim had also said that the Judicial Appointment Commission Bill will be tabled during the first session of Parliament in May 2008 but until this date there has been no such Bill tabled.

3. I did bring up the issue of the Bar Council Dinner on 17-04-2008, which was attended by the PM and YB Datuk Zaid, was paid by the Government. Upon my insistence that the Minister provides the total cost for that dinner on 17-07-2008, YB Datuk Zaid told Parliament that he will give me the total cost of the said dinner by way of a written reply as he had no figure with him.

4. Payment of ex-gratia payments for those Judges that were sacked in 1988. Many questions were posed why YB Datuk Zaid Ibrahim himself had to personally go to the Judges’ houses and bring along reporters and TV crews just for the delivery of cheques to the said judges. What was the exact sum of the ex-gratia payment for each of those judges.

YB Datuk Zaid confirmed that the ex-gratia payments to the judges came from the government but he could not reveal the sum at the request of the judges concerned and their families. But he said the MPs will soon know about it because it will be recorded in the Government Budget.

5. The name of a Court of Appeal Judge, Datuk Low Hop Bing, was brought up in Parliament for the second time. I informed Parliament that during the hearing of the Royal Commission, Datuk VK Lingam’s brother has testified that Datuk V K Lingam had instructed him to bring a bag to give to Datuk Low Hop Bing in his house late at night. I asked YB Datuk Zaid that based on this, what actions he intends to take regarding this matter because a Judge’s reputation cannot be tainted. Since there was such an allegation, YA Datuk Low Hop Bing should be suspended from hearing cases pending investigation.

The Minister replied that he will refer this matter to the Chief Justice for action.