The judge who killed off mega awards


  • Nation
  • Saturday, 15 Mar 2003

BY SHAILA KOSHY AND M. MAGESWARI

KUALA LUMPUR: Chief Justice Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah, who “killed off” the mega-defamation award trend in the last decade, retires today after 21 years as a judge. 

“Yes, I killed off that trend,” he said in an interview. 

Lawyers and members of the media had heaved a sigh of relief after his appointment on Dec 20, 2000, when Dzaiddin made it known that awarding mega defamation awards by the courts would be a thing of the past. 

Although his tenure as head of the judiciary was short, even with an extension after he turned 65 last September, he is satisfied with what he has managed to do. 

While Dzaiddin is looking forward to playing “lots of golf” in his retirement, he feels keenly the need for the role of the judiciary to be understood by all. 

“There's much to be done. One thing I think is very important is the independence of the judiciary. As you know, judges only speak through their judgments and sometimes they are misunderstood by those who don’t know our system of doing things.”  

Asked how important was it for the judiciary to be seen to be independent in a country where the executive holds the majority in the legislature, Dzaiddin said: 

“The three branches should understand each other's role. There should not be any interference. If all the three understand that, we can work hand in hand for the betterment of the country.” 

Dzaiddin, who set up a College of Judges to discuss problems in the judiciary and appointments of judges with his fellow judges, added that the judiciary had, at the recently concluded judges conference, rejected the suggestion that the Judges Code of Ethics 1994 be amended.  

“I have informed Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim that the judges are not keen to a replacement of the present code,” he said, but did not to elaborate on this change in view as the judiciary had submitted a proposal based on the Bangalore Draft 2000 to the government last year. 

Dzaiddin left his office in a lively and jovial mood at 4.47pm yesterday. He shook hands with court staff, judges, magistrates and policemen who had waited eagerly to bid him farewell. 

Together with him was the newly appointed Chief Justice of the Federal Court Tan Sri Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, the former President of the Court of Appeal.  

 

n A mender of judicial  

integrity P22  

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