EXTENDING top judges in their posts strengthens the perception of political interference for a pro-government judiciary and has tarnished the good image of the institution, said former Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad.
According to a Sinar Harian report, he said the decision showed the government was determined to keep Md Raus Sharif and Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin in their present roles.
“It is difficult for the government to reject the public perception that it is preparing a pro-government judiciary, if it has to defend itself in cases during that period.
“This will not help the government in showing the people that it is transparent,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Hamid also said political interference was evident in the issue. This mirrored events under Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s governance, which was as a dark time in Malaysian history, specifically in the judiciary.
He added the judges would be seen to be compromised by continuing to hold the posts, despite it being their time to step down, further tarnishing the good image of the judiciary.
“To make the appointment seem legal, the government is considering raising the retiring age for High Court judges to 70 years old.
“If the government can gain two thirds of Parliament’s support, the amendment might help in solving the issue of extending their posts.
“That is if the date it is enforced comes after the resignation of Arifin (Zakaria) and before Raus and Zulkefli turn 66 years old and six months,” he added.
However, Hamid said if the amendment was enforced, the same situation could still occur again in future and that is why the suitability of raising the retiring age should be considered thoroughly.
“Just because other countries are extending the retirement age of their judges, that does not mean we have to emulate them.
“The government’s act of continuing the service of both judges is not wise, nor is it good for Malaysia’s image,” he said.