KUCHING: Sarawakians are calling for the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum to be appointed the next Chief Justice of Malaysia.
DAP’s Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said Malanjum was the most senior Federal Court judge, even more senior than outgoing Chief Justice Tun Md Raus Sharif.
He said Malanjum introduced many improvements and initiatives, such as the computerisation of the courts in Sabah and Sarawak in 2006, soon after his appointment as the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak.
“This has benefitted many people, including members of the judiciary, the Bar, parties in trials and the public.
“His close involvement in the development and implementation of the project led to the creation of the Integrated Court Solution (ICS), which won the United Nations World Summit Award 2009 in the E-Government and Institutions Category,” he said.
He added that there was “no question” about Malanjum’s capability to head the judiciary.
“We are confident that Malanjum will indeed carry out the duties of his office without fear or favour and will uphold the principles of justice unconditionally.”
In addition, Yii said no Sarawakian or Sabahan had held the position of Chief Justice since the formation of Malaysia 55 years ago.
“Now that there are growing constitutional arguments regarding our rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963, I believe the time is ripe for an appointment of a Chief Justice from the Bornean states,” he said.
Raus and Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin tendered their resignation on Wednesday and will vacate their positions on July 31.
Dayak National Congress president Paul Raja said the elevation of Malanjum, a Sabahan, would address the injustice of the past when senior civil servants from Sabah and Sarawak were overlooked for promotions.
“This time, the most qualified person in the judiciary must be appointed to the post of Chief Justice of Malaysia.
“Although it may be quite late in the day for Malanjum to helm the judiciary, it is never too late to rectify the wrongs of the past,” he said.
Paul also said it was appropriate for the new Pakatan Harapan government to start reforming the judiciary by appointing Malanjum to be the Chief Justice.
“Being the fountain of justice, the judiciary plays a very important role in nation-building.
“We in Sarawak would like to see national integration being done all the way to the top,” he said.
United People’s Party (UPP) also called for Malanjum to be appointed Chief Justice based on his seniority and merit.
“He will be the first from Sabah or Sarawak to be appointed to the top post in the judiciary and it will send a strong signal that the new Federal Government is serious about promotions based on seniority and merit,” it said.
UPP, the splinter party of Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), said Sabahans and Sarawakians would question the impartiality of judicial appointments under the new administration if Malanjum was bypassed for the top judicial post.
“We therefore call for the elevation of Malanjum to be the next Chief Justice of Malaysia,” it added.