KUCHING, 17 Dec 2008: The Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) Bill will not erode Sarawak’s constitutional rights in appointing judges as its current judiciary system on the appointment of judges will be maintained after the bill is passed.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had assured him this morning that the bill would not erode the constitutional rights given by the state under the Federal Constitution.
“As far as the constitutional position in the appointment of the judges is concerned, Sarawak has not been affected by the new law,” he told a press conference here today.
Despite not reading the contents of the bill, Taib was confident that the bill would further enhance the system of judges’ appointments as the commission played a similar role to that of the Public Services Commission.
“Not much change except the process of appointment, it is much more professional and organised,” he said, adding that the commission would shortlist eligible candidates to be forwarded to the prime minister who would submit the names to the Rulers Council, the final authority for the appointment of judges, for approval.
Taib said the present system should be maintained as some of the laws enforced in both states were not uniform with laws in Peninsula Malaysia.
For example, he said, the land laws in Sarawak and Sabah were different from those in the Peninsular and to ensure justice was served fairly and effectively, it needed judges from the respective states to ensure greater handling of various laws governing the two states.
On 14 Dec, during the 14th DAP Sarawak annual convention, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng claimed the JAC Bill would affect Sarawak and Sabah’s constitutional rights with regard to the provision under Article 122B and Article 161E(2)(b).
This is because the commission, he said, would override the power of the Yang di-Pertua Negeri of the respective states in terms of appointment, promotion and suspension of judges.
Meanwhile on another development, Taib said the state cabinet reshuffle would take place after March, next year, when the hand-over of power to the new prime minister took place.
He said this was because he needed to first consult the prime minister before proceeding with reshuffle plans. — Bernama