PUTRAJAYA, Jan 14 — Malaysia’s Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat today gave her assurance that the country’s judicial system has remained independent under her watch.
Speaking to reporters after opening the legal year for 2022 at the Palace of Justice here, Tengku Maimun acknowledged allegations from a former prime minister of calls to intervene in certain high-profile court cases.
However, Tengku Maimun said she had never been approached by anyone, let alone a member of the executive branch of government, to “help” in certain court cases.
“I can say that I have not been approached and I don’t think my colleagues here also have been approached,” she said in the news conference.
“Basically, people know that the judges make decisions based on testimonies and we cannot get away from the principle. That is the core principle,” she added.
Tengku Maimun was asked to comment on the reference made by the Malaysian Bar president in his speech earlier concerning attempts by politicians seeking intervention with their court matters.
“Let me say just this, anyone who contacts us, we will just say: there’s nothing much I can do. The matter is in the court, the judges will decide according to the evidence and the law. That will be our answer if there is any such call,” she said.
In his speech during the ceremony earlier, Malaysian Bar president AG Kalidas made a reference to the allegation made by then prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
Muhyiddin had claimed, in a televised address on August 4 last year that he had received appeals from certain people, whom he did not name, seeking intervention on their ongoing court cases.
Tengku Maimun pointed out that despite Muhyiddin’s remarks, it was never stated anywhere that he had then contacted the judiciary and asked for any form of intervention.
Kalidas said the Malaysian Bar has always defended the principle of judicial independence and integrity.
“Judicial independence is sacrosanct, and forms the cornerstone of a fair and impartial judiciary, which is necessary for upholding the rule of law and instilling public confidence.
“It must not be allowed to be tarnished, and the importance of a judiciary that is insulated from interference in a democracy, cannot be overstated,” Kalidas said.
He added that it is the responsibility of each public institution to ensure that no one is above the law, irrespective of their political or social affiliations.