PETALING JAYA: The Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) sees four new faces, with the appointments of three former Court of Appeal judges and constitutional law expert Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi on Sept 4 as eminent persons.
The three former judges are Datuk Mah Weng Kwai, Datuk Linton Albert and Datuk Seri Mohd Hishamudin Yunus. Mah is also a Malaysian Human Rights Commissioner and former Malaysian Bar president.
Hishamudin is known for his landmark decisions in cases involving the now-repealed Internal Security Act.
In 2015, he raised eyebrows as he sided with transgender men on their rights to cross-dress as women on the basis of equality, as the law does not punish women who dress like the opposite sex.
Albert became a student activist idol as his judgment declared Section 15(5)(a) of the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971, or Act 30, as unconstitutional.
He held that students at Malaysian universities could participate in politics, and that the law prohibiting them from doing so was unconstitutional.
Dr Shad, an emeritus professor, is Tunku Abdul Rahman chair at Universiti Malaya’s Faculty of Law. He is The Star’s columnist, and is very often quoted on legal and constitutional issues.
The JAC is presided by Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum.
Aside from the four appointees, other members include 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.
Previously, this last position was filled by Federal Court judge Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed, and when contacted, Mah confirmed that Azahar was still a member of the JAC.
The four new appointees replaced former Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria, former Court of Appeal judge Datuk Anantham Kasinather, former Sarawak state attorney-general Datuk Abdul Razak Tready and Universiti Malaya Law Faculty lecturer Professor Dr Choong Yeow Choy.
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”.
In this case, “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 added.
Most importantly, the judiciary must remain corruption-free at all times, he said.