KUALA LUMPUR, 21 Oct 2008: The Dewan Rakyat rejected an emergency motion by Kubang Kerian Member of Parliament (MP) Salahuddin Ayub to debate the appointment of Tan Sri Zaki Azmi as the new Chief Justice.
Salahuddin filed the emergency motion on 16 Oct but it was later rejected in Chambers. He said it was important to discuss the appointment for Chief Justice for the sake of preserving the honour and integrity of the judiciary.
The PAS MP said it would be worrying if Zaki, who is currently the Court of Appeal President, is appointed as the new Chief Justice based on hierarchy.
“The august house needs to be reminded that when Zaki was appointed as the Court of Appeal President last year, it sparked debate that highlighted his personal issues and his involvement in Umno. His promotion to the post had also tarnished the integrity of the judiciary,” he said.
Zaki had, during his private practice, served, among others, as the Abandoned Housing Project Scheme and National Sports Council adviser. He was disciplinary (technical) committee chairman with Umno. He was also the party’s selection committee secretary and a member of its disciplinary board appeal panel.
Before he was appointed directly to the Federal Court from the legal profession on 5 Sept 2007, he resigned from all his corporate directorships and party memberships, but some groups still expressed concern about his impartiality.
In rejecting the motion, Deputy Speaker Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the House was not allowed to discuss the conduct or character of judges from Federal Court, Court of Appeal and High Court as stated in the Standing Orders 36 (8).
He added that however it would be exempted if a quarter of the 222 MPs or 55 of them moved a substantive motion to debate the matter.
The Conference of Rulers last week nominated Zaki to take over from Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamed, who retired on 18 Oct.
The Malaysian Bar had earlier expressed concern about Zaki’s political affiliations and business connections and said only “a demonstration of independence and impartiality at all times” can dispel them.
(see also King appoints Zaki as Chief Justice)