New judicial commission members men of integrity, says lawyer

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Four new JAC membersKUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 – Prominent lawyer Syahredzan Johan has lauded the composition of the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) as announced recently.

The political secretary to Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang told NMT that the presence of retired judges like former Court of Appeal judge Datuk Seri Hishamudin Yunus, among others, will benefit the JAC.

“I am delighted to hear that Justice Hishamudin has been appointed to the JAC. He was a brave judge, who made progressive judgments in favour of the people and against the excesses of the State. Most importantly he is a man of integrity,” Syahredzan said.

Two other former Court of Appeal judges were also appointed on September 4, namely Datuk Mah Weng Kwai and Datuk Linton Albert, as well as constitutional law expert Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi.

Mah is also a member of the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) and a former Malaysian Bar president.

Hishamudin, meanwhile, is known for his landmark decisions in cases involving the now-repealed Internal Security Act (ISA).

He was also the judge who ruled in favour of transender men, stating in a 2015 appeal  that such individuals have the right to cross-dress as women on the basis of equality, because the law does not punish women who dress like men.

Albert has been a favourite of students since he declared Section 15(5)(a) of the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) 1971, or Act 30, as unconstitutional.

He had previously ruled that students at local universities could participate in politics, because the law prohibiting them from doing so was unconstitutional.

The JAC is led by Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum.

According to The Star, aside from Malanjum and the four appointees mentioned above, the JAC also includes the President of the Court of Appeal, the Chief Judge of Malaya, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak and a sitting Federal Court judge appointed by the prime minister.

Federal Court judge Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed was appointed to the JAC by former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and according to Mah, he remains a member of the JAC.

The JAC was set up in 2009 under the Judicial Appointments Act 2009, with its main role to “uphold the continuous independence of the judiciary through the selection of superior court judges”.

“Superior court” refers to the High Court, Court of Appeal and Federal Court.

Mah said judges were appointed based on merit, seniority and their knowledge of the law and must also possess good judicial temperament.

“When selecting and promoting judges, the JAC takes into consideration whether they wrote reasoned judgments,” Mah was quoted as saying by The Star.

Most importantly, the judiciary must remain corruption-free at all times, he added.