KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 — The Conference of Rulers is proposing that five of the nine members of the Judicial Appointments Committee (JAC) no longer be appointed by the prime minister so that its composition is more balanced and does not carry the interest of any party.
The Yang Dipertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan, Tuanku Muhriz Tuanku Munawir, who chaired the 260th Conference of Rulers meeting today, said in terms of the judicial system, the Conference of Rulers is responsible for the appointment of judges in Malaysia, and at present, this process is seen as having weaknesses that can be improved, JAC’s membership included.
His Highness said JAC plays a key role in proposing judicial nominations, and therefore its membership was critical in ensuring that the committee continued to be looked up to and is capable of nominating judges of calibre and integrity.
“Instead, it (power to appoint JAC members) should be given to several other institutions such as the Malaysian Bar, the Sabah Law Society, Advocates Association of Sarawak and Parliament’s Select Committee.
“Currently, JAC has nine members, four of whom are senior judges while five more are individuals appointed by the Prime Minister,” Tuanku Muhriz said in his message in conjunction with the two-day 260th Conference of Rulers meeting that began yesterday at Istana Negara.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, Malay State Rulers as well as the Yang Dipertua Negeri of Penang, Melaka, Sabah and Sarawak attended the meeting.
In addition, the Conference of Rulers also proposed for JAC’s structure to be re-evaluated through discussions between the government, existing JAC members, legal bodies as well as institutions or other relevant stakeholders.
Tuanku Muhriz expressed confidence that with improvements made, JAC will be able to carry out its responsibilities more effectively and ensure that the selection and appointment of judges in Malaysia are from among individuals of noble character and who are transparent and just.
“As cited in two of the principles of Rukun Negara, namely Supremacy of the Constitution and the Rule of Law, these principles are extremely important to ensure enforcement agencies and the Judiciary are free from external influence in executing their responsibilities,” His Highness said.