Tributes continue to pour in for Tun Salleh Abas

PETALING JAYA: Tributes continue to pour in for the late Tun Salleh Abas who passed away on Saturday (Jan 16).

Former Malaysian Bar president Datuk Mah Weng Kwai described Salleh as a man who believed in and protected judicial independence.

“I had the honour of serving as a Deputy Public Prosecutor in 1978 under the late Tun Salleh when he was the Solicitor General. Through the years I have known him to be a pillar of strength in upholding the cause of justice. Regrettably, Tun paid a heavy price for standing by his principles," said Mah.

Salleh had passed away at the Sultanah Nur Zahirah Hospital in Kuala Terengganu in the early morning of Saturday of pneumonia. He was admitted to hospital a day earlier after testing positive for Covid-19. He was 91.

Datuk Param Cumaraswamy, the former United Nations special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, expressed his condolences to the family saying the country has lost a good judge.

Former legal firm partner of Salleh, Tunku Sofiah Jewa, described the former Lord President as a man with a razor-sharp mind.

The founder and trustee of the Tun Suffian Foundation, likened his "prolific brain” to the "prolific fruiting” of a limau kasturi (Philippine lime) plant Salleh had planted in the compound of her house in Kampung Tunku, Petaling Jaya.

"Tun loved gardening. The plant is now 28 years old, flowering and fruiting prolifically like his prolific brain which was as sharp as a razor blade," she said.

A native of Kampung Raja, Besut, Terengganu, Salleh was a law graduate from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, and had a Masters in International Law and Constitution from the University of London.

He then served in various capacities as a magistrate and a deputy public prosecutor at the Attorney General's Chambers, before becoming the Solicitor General.

He was one of the elders who helped draft the Rukun Negara in 1970, when he was the Solicitor General.

He later became a Federal Court judge, and then Chief Judge of Malaya in 1982.

Salleh took over the post of Lord President in 1984 and headed the country’s judiciary from 1984 until the constitutional crisis of 1988 when he was unceremoniously sacked from his position, along with five other senior judges in the Supreme Court, as the highest court was called then.

He had also contested as a PAS representative and won a state seat in Jertih, Terengganu in the 1999 general election.

In 2008, the government decided to pay Salleh and the five others goodwill ex gratia over their sacking.

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