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No. 4489 PP 2644/12/2008 (020369)

Thursday
April 10, 2008

TELLING IT AS IT IS

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Judicial renaissance

RAJA NAZRIN: INCREMENTAL AND COSMETIC CHANGES NOT ENOUGH TO REVITALISE JUDICIARY

has become more educated. “The old model of large and rigid bureaucracies handing out government largesse has also become outdated. And governments can no longer just offer their citizens material wealth. The intangible benefits of development, including an absence of corruption, abuse and repression, and the protection and enlargement of individual rights and freedoms, are now equally important goods that citizens demand and which governments must deliver. “We must not be fooled into believing that to be monetarily rich, only practical expediency matters and that judicial integrity and independence do not. I say ‘monetarily rich’ and not ‘developed’ because there is a very big difference between the two. I do not believe it is possible to be developed without a highly respected judiciary.” Raja Nazrin also listed the features of a judicial renaissance. Judicial power and courage “The courts have unfettered powers to interpret the Constitution, to construe laws, and to declare any law or administrative action that is inconsistent with the Constitution to be void. Preserving and protecting the Constitution require judicial courage.”

If the judiciary is filled with the highest calibre of men and women that this nation has to offer, not only in terms of ability but also values, there is nothing to fear. We must never fear truth, knowledge and wisdom. We should always fear their opposites.” Governments can no longer just offer their citizens material wealth. The intangible benefits of development, including an absence of corruption, abuse and repression, and the protection and enlargement of individual rights and freedoms, are now equally important goods that citizens demand and which governments must deliver.”
– Raja Nazrin

proven to be and will continue to be challenging. They send a clear message that we cannot continue on a course of ‘business-as-usual’.” He said in the current environment, the opinion and decisions of men and women of reason, wisdom and balance in all spheres of life will be in even greater demand than before, especially in the courts of law. “If the judiciary is filled with the highest calibre of men and women that this nation has to offer, not only in terms of ability but also values, there is nothing to fear. We must never fear truth, knowledge and wisdom. We should always fear their opposites. I therefore urge you to press on. May the judicial renaissance grow and flourish under your careful hands and watchful eyes,” he told the judges. He said the reputation of our judiciary can be maintained only if the high standards adopted were consistently adhered to. “In the last two decades, judicial independence and integrity have eroded. The result is a lack of confidence in the judicial system and the complete disregard for the law by some quarters. These are dark stains on our honour and reputation and they have the potential to weaken if not destroy the nation.” PUTRAJAYA: Addressing an issue that has bugged the nation for far too long, Regent of Perak Raja Dr Nazrin Shah yesterday said Malaysia needs nothing short of a “judicial renaissance”. He said undertaking incremental and cosmetic modifications are not enough to revitalise the judiciary. “Without it, one of the three pillars that hold up this nation will remain in a significantly weakened state. Injustices will continue to perpetuate. Efforts at developing social cohesion and nation-building will be severely compromised,” he told the threeday Annual Judges Conference which started yesterday. Noting that the present climate presents an opportunity to press on with much-needed changes, Raja Nazrin said the judicial renaissance that was emerging must therefore not be allowed to roll back. “We must constantly fuel the engines of this renaissance.” “Change is never easy. Resistance must always be assumed. The inertia of the status quo is very strong and this is especially true when the situation is serious and the changes required are huge. “There will be the everpresent temptation to undertake just incremental and cosmetic modifications. We need to recognise that these are not sufficient for the judicial revitalisation and renewal that this country needs and deserves,” he said. Raja Nazrin said the results of the last general election had introduced a greater degree of contestation in policy-making, legislation and administration. “Some of these changes may be transient. Others could well be permanent. Whatever the case, the new political realities have Raja Nazrin listed the hallmarks of a judicial renaissance. respect for the rule of law. He reiterated that the Federal Constitution must be defended by all as it was crafted to cater to the country’s pluralistic character. “Each time an administrative decision is taken that runs contrary to its provisions, the Constitution is in danger of being deemed irrelevant. This is why it is absolutely critical for judges to be sensitive to the spirit that underlies the Constitution.” He said the courts must be uncompromising on constitutional questions. He said the three pillars of government must be highly responsive and accountable to cater to a society that has become more complex and a citizenry that

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highest integrity and intellect are elevated. He paid tribute to the late Tan Sri Abdul Malek Ahmad, who was made Court of Appeal president in 2004. Malek passed away last year. He also praised those who have dedicated their lives to upholding the sanctity of the law. judicial appointments. “There is merit in the suggestion for the establishment of a Judicial

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RICE LINE ... Women holding government-subsidised rice walk past residents waiting to buy the staple outside a Manila church yesterday. The Philippines will dismantle an import tariff on private rice purchases to encourage more buyers and boost supplies. In Haiti, people erected fiery barricades and tried to storm the National Palace as protests against rising food prices paralysed the nation’s capital. See PAGE 15.

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