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Published: Thursday October 16, 2008 MYT 7:57:00 PM
Updated: Thursday October 16, 2008 MYT 9:33:37 PM

Zaki is new Chief Justice (updated)

KUALA LUMPUR: The new Chief Justice of Malaysia will be Federal Court Justice Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi.

Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi

According to sources, the Conference of Rulers, which met this week, had agreed to Zaki’s appointment as head of the judiciary.

Current Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamed, who was given a six-month extension in April, retires Friday.

Sources also said that Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Alauddin Mohd Sheriff would move up the judicial ladder to the No 2 position of Court of Appeal President, replacing Zaki.

It is understood that Federal Court Justice Arifin Zakaria would be elevated to Chief Judge of Malaya, the third highest postion, but it could not be confirmed.

Arifin is currently the most senior of the remaining Federal Court judges (www.kehakiman.gov.my).

Under Article 122B (1) of the Federal Constitution, the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, the President of the Court of Appeal and the Chief Judges “shall be appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister, after consulting the Conference of Rulers.”

Zaki, 63, who is currently the President of the Court of Appeal, made history on Sept 5 last year when he was appointed directly to the Federal Court from the legal profession.

The son of former Lord President Tun Azmi Mohamed (1966-1974), Zaki was promoted in December to President, the No 2 post in the judiciary.

Born on Sept 12, 1945, in Alor Star, Zaki studied at Kolej Sultan Abdul Hamid in Alor Setar, Anderson School in Ipoh and the English College in Johor Baru.

Called to the English Bar in 1969 and a member of the Lincoln’s Inn, Zaki served in various capacities in the Legal and Judicial Services before being called to the Malaysian Bar in December 1983.

As senior federal counsel from 1976 to 1984, the father of four boys was in charge of all legal matters relating to the Home Affairs Ministry, matters affecting the National Security Council and the Refugee Unit.

Married to Puan Sri Nik Sazlina Mohd Zain, he also served on the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the police force in 2004.

In his time in private practice, Zaki served among others as the Abandoned Housing Project Scheme and National Sports Council adviser.

He also served as Umno disciplinary (technical) committee chairman, Umno selection committee secretary, and was a member of Umno’s disciplinary board appeal panel.

Before his appointment to the Federal Court last year, Zaki had resigned from all his corporate directorships and memberships but his former connection to Umno has been raised numerous times by some groups who worry about his possible impartiality.

A petition was submitted to the King on Sept 15 requesting Zaki not be elevated as Chief Justice.

By convention, the President of the Court of the Court of Appeal is generally elevated to head the judiciary.

The new Court of Appeal President, Alauddin, was born in Kulim, Kedah, on Aug 7, 1946. He left for Britain in 1967 to read law at the Inner Temple in London.

He worked his way to the second highest position in the judiciary by starting at the “bottom.”

He spent 18 years (1971-1989) in the Judicial and Legal Services, of which the first six were as a magistrate or Sessions Court judge in five states. The remaining years were largely in the legal service until his appointment as Judicial Commissioner in 1992.

He served three years as a High Court judge before his elevation to the Court of Appeal in 2001 and then to the Federal Court in 2001.

Alauddin, 62, and his wife Datin Munirah Abdul Rahman have two daughters and a son.

The new Chief Judge of Malaya, Arifin, who turned 58 on Oct 1, was born in Pasir Mas, Kelantan.

He attended primary school in Repek and Gual Periok and later the Sekolah Sultan Ibrahim, followed by the Sultan Ismail College, in Kota Baru.

In 1971, he left to study law at Sheffield University in Britain where he obtained an LLB (Hons) in 1974. In 1978, he obtained a master’s degree at University College, London, and was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn in 1979.

Arifin joined the judicial and legal service on his return to Malaysia in 1974. Among the posts he has held were Federal Counsel in the Attorney General’s Chambers, assistant and deputy parliamentary draftsman and state legal adviser of Malacca and Perak.

Arifin, who is married to Datin Robiah Abd Kadir and has five children with her, was appointed to the High Court in 1994 and elevated to the Court of Appeal in 2002 and the Federal Court in 2005.

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