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Thursday October 30, 2008

Zaki vows to get tough on errant judges

PUTRAJAYA: Chief Justice Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi has vowed to get tough on errant judges, whom he accuses of besmirching the image and reputation of the judiciary.

Zaki, who replaced Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad as the country’s top judge, said such errant judges should consider leaving the judiciary.

“I will not hesitate to take tough and drastic action against this small group (of judges) if the occasion calls for it. And for those in the practice of toadying, I say ‘stop it’.

“This small group have failed to fulfil their responsibilities and have affected the image of our institution. If they are being dishonest, they are also being irresponsible,” he said in his first speech following his appointment at the Palace of Justice here yesterday.

Royal appointment: The King presenting the appointment letter as Chief Justice to Zaki yesterday. — Bernama

At the same ceremony, Tan Sri Alauddin Mohd Sheriff and Datuk Arifin Zakaria were also elevated to Court of Appeal President and Chief Judge of Malaya respectively.

Quoting from English judge Sir Robert Peel’s speech in a case in 1834, Zaki said “such gross and grievous neglect of duty would warrant a removal from the Bench.”

Zaki said judges should remind themselves that their salaries were derived from taxes and that if they ever felt they could not live up to giving the best service possible to the people, they had the choice to quit.

“We must remember that public interest is above all else. If we choose to remain within the institution, then we must give our best,” he said.

Zaki also vowed to reduce the backlog of court cases, adding that his “rough and direct” method in his previous tenure as the President of Court of Appeal had worked tremendously towards resolving similar problems there.

“The problems faced by the judiciary are huge. Besides the perception of corruption – even if there is any – the judges need to overcome the backlog of cases and delay. People are denied justice.

“I, together with the President of the Court of Appeal, the Chief Judge of Malaya and other Sabah and Sarawak judges are determined to overcome these problems and enhance the delivery system,” he said.

Zaki promised that those who were hardworking and carried out their duties devoutly, he would ensure that their work was recognised.

“Prove that you deserve to be rewarded and I will fight for you,” he said.

Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said Zaki’s speech was positive and that the council would give him a chance to prove himself.

She said it was good to hear that Zaki had vowed tough action against errant judges.

Related Story: PM: Zaki a man of reforms

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