CJ: Judges must be loyal to the Federal Constitution, committed to upholding the rule of law

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Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat (2nd, right) with family members of the late Tun Mohamed Salleh Abas at the Putrajaya Courthouse on September 14, 2022. – Bernama pic

Wednesday, September 14, 2022 7:07 p.m. GMT

PUTRAJAYA, September 14 – Judges, in all circumstances, must be faithful to the Federal Constitution and be determined to uphold the rule of law.

Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat said so in her speech during the reference proceedings held today to honor the memory of former Lord President, the late Tun Mohamed Salleh Abas.

She said the year 1988 would forever be remembered as the darkest chapter in the history of the Malaysian judiciary, its independence, guaranteed by the Federal Constitution, having been stunned by the dismissal of Tun Salleh as Lord President.

“This has sadly led to the upheaval of the country’s judicial system and a crushing blow to the judicial system and the Constitution,” she said.

Tengku Maimun said that the 1988 episode should be taken as a lesson by judges because, despite attempts to undermine the independence of the judiciary, judges must, under all circumstances, be faithful to the Federal Constitution and be resolute to uphold the rule of law.

Paying tribute to Tun Salleh, Tengku Maimun said the former Lord President was a great and courageous legal luminary as he had staunchly defended the Federal Constitution and defended the independence of the judiciary to its very end.

She said Tun Salleh said that judges should observe and respect the concept of separation of powers as judges should not encroach on the domain of the executive or legislative branches of government.

Tengku Maimun said that Tun Salleh, who valiantly defended the role of the judiciary, recognized that it is the role of the judiciary to invalidate any act of the executive or the legislature by using writs or declarations of prerogative if they transgress their powers beyond the limits granted to them by the Federal Constitution.

She said that during Tun Salleh’s tenure as Lord President, the Malaysian judiciary was hailed as a model for other countries in terms of independence and credibility of the judiciary.

Seven months before his death, the judiciary invited Tun Salleh to the courthouse for a tea to commemorate him as a special article in the Malaysian Judicial Yearbook, she said.

Tengku Maimun said in one of his many interviews that Tun Salleh repeatedly said that it had always been his last wish and fervent hope to address the judiciary or, at the very least, to have a simple action to mark his departure as Lord President. .

“In the decades since his retirement he has said there is no closure for him as he has never had the chance to say goodbye to court staff, the judiciary and the fraternity legal. The evening ended with a simple farewell ceremony for Tun Salleh,” she said.

“We didn’t know that tonight was our last parting with our last goodbye to Tun Salleh,” she added.

The dismissal proceedings were presided over by Tengku Maimun who sat on the bench along with President of the Court of Appeal Tan Sri Rohana Yusuf, Chief Justice of Malaya Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed and Chief Justice of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim.

Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin, Deputy Minister of the Prime Minister’s Department for Parliament and Law, and 39 members of Tun Salleh’s family were present at the dismissal proceedings, an age-old tradition held in remembrance of deceased members of the brotherhood legal.

Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun and Malaysian Bar President Karen Cheah, as well as Tun Salleh’s granddaughter, Nuralissa Norrazak, also delivered their speeches in his honor.

Tun Salleh, from Kampung Raja, Besut in Terengganu, died aged 91 on January 16 last year at Sultanah Nur Zahirah Hospital in Kuala Terengganu, two days after testing positive for Covid- 19.

He was Lord President of the Federal Court for four years from 1984 before being removed from office in 1988 during a constitutional crisis where he fought to preserve the independence of the judiciary when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed was prime minister.

He then joined politics and contested and won the state seat of Jertih under the PAS ticket in Terengganu in 1999.

After leaving politics, Tun Salleh practiced law and appeared frequently before the Federal Court and the Court of Appeal. — Bernama

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