Former Malaysian Chief Justice to speak at Sydney Law School
7 May 2013
Malaysia's judiciary has been damaged by involvement in that country's political scandals in recent years but is reforming itself to restore its reputation and credibility, its former Chief Justice and upcoming Sydney Law School Distinguished Speaker says.
In the wake of Saturday's election, former Chief Justice Tun Zaki bin Azmi will on Thursday outline these reforms and discuss the separation of powers in his country, particularly in relation to judicial independence.
Malaysia's judges have frequently been charged with political interference, most prominently in relation to the prosecution and conviction of Mr Ibrahim for sexual misconduct and corruption soon after he broke ranks with Malaysia's dominant UMNO party in 1998.
As a judge since 2007 and a member of UMNO, Mr Zaki has not been immune from allegations of interference.
"This impression has endured at home and lingered overseas, notwithstanding a series of recent reforms and measures designed to restore the judiciary's reputation and the credibility of the Malaysian legal system," says Mr Zaki, Malaysia's Chief Justice from October 2008 until September 2011.
"In the 1980s, under Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed, the torch of judicial independence appeared to shine brightly with the judges expanding grounds for judicial review and declaring Mahathir's UMNO party an illegal organisation.
"In the eyes of overseas commentators that spirit of independence was short-lived when, in 1988, the Malaysian Supreme Court was effectively 'sacked' then 'stacked' with known party stalwarts. It was also stripped of its inherent jurisdiction by constitutional amendment.
"Political machinations reached their zenith when Anwar Ibrahim was convicted a decade later, worsening at the turn of the century when allegations of a rigged and corrupt judiciary came to light."
Mr Zaki says the judiciary has distanced itself from the executive and legislative branches of Malaysian government in the last five years. Under his leadership appointments to the judicial bench have become more transparent and court delays have been dramatically reduced.
This address 'Rule of Law and the Independence of the Judiciary in Malaysia: New Government, Old Government, does it really matter?' will offer an informed view of the Malaysian judiciary and its role in upholding country's democratic process.
When: 6 to 7pm, Thursday 9 May
Cost: $25, Sydney Law School alumni $20, University of Sydney student $10
Registration: essential, either online or from 5.30pm on the day
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