I am somewhat perplexed why people in high places are all excited about wanting Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif to be Chief Justice for many more years—“people in high places” here means those who are known to be close to or associated with the Prime Minister, and they have all been working hard to make sure Raus occupies the position of Chief Justice not for six months but for three years or more.
First, it was Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, who is Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department. Azalina said that former Chief Justice Tun Ariffin Zakaria was the one who recommended that Raus be appointed an additional judge — a day before Tun Ariffin himself retired.
If true, this “additional judge” mechanism has been abused simply to enable Raus to become Chief Justice for a longer term while bypassing the age limitation imposed by the Federal Constitution.
Unless Tun Ariffin comes out in the open to confirm the facts, I won’t believe this story. I don’t believe Tun Ariffin would bend over backwards to flout the Constitution in order to recommend Raus for Chief Justice in this manner. I don’t remember Tun Ariffin being a great fan of Raus. If he wants to bend the law why not do it for himself.
I know that, three months ago, at a function organised by the Lincoln’s Inn alumni, former Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi loudly proclaimed that those gathered at the event must do their best to ensure that Raus became the next Chief Justice after Tun Ariffin.
Well, Raus did become Chief Justice, and if not for the additional-judge mechanism, he would have had to retire in a few months. Maybe Tun Zaki can explain to the people of this country why it is so important that Raus remains Chief Justice for a much longer period past his retirement age as provided by the law.
Maybe Tun Zaki can explain the extraordinary skills that Raus possesses, which others do not have, for the proper running of the Palace of Justice. Maybe Tun Zaki can give a Press conference and explain why Raus is so important to this country.
I cannot believe that Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali would agree to this manner of extending Raus’ tenure as well as the disregard of the law. I hope Apandi can do the famous show with the Press where he can wave around his legal opinion supporting this appointment. Until and unless he does so, I will hold to the view that Raus’ appointment was done against the Attorney-General’s advice.
Then there’s the world’s most famous lawyer: Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah. Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim thinks Shafee is the architect of this roundabout way of appointing the Chief Justice—just make him an additional judge, and lo and behold he can then serve as Chief Justice.
My friends in London believe Shafee has the opinion the famed lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC in support of this appointment, and this opinion overrides that of the Attorney-General. When you have money you can travel far. Why do we need a foreign legal opinion unless it’s to “supersede” the opinion of the Attorney-General?
It will help matters if the Office of the Yang di Pertuan Agong can clarify which lawyer’s advice was relied upon by the King and was thus instrumental in Raus’ appointment.
If it’s the advice of former Chief Justice Tun Ariffin, maybe we can examine his correspondence the Palace. It will be interesting to read Tun Ariffin’s reasons for supporting Raus. Likewise, it will also be helpful if the Office of the Agong could also allow the public to view the Attorney-General’s opinion of the issue.
Why do all these opinions and disclosures matter? Because after 1MDB we must all be very careful. We live under a government that operates in the twilight zone: where truth and falsehood interchange freely , where what’s s bogus and what’s real are unrecognisable. Where else can billions of Ringgit of public funds siphoned of by using fraudulent letterheads and bogus companies except under this government?
Similarly it is therefore not impossible for the operators to use bogus legal opinions on false letterheads in order to mislead people when appointing the nation’s Chief Justice. To dispel the doubt of many people and to prevent such a recurrence in future, the people must demand transparency and get as many facts as possible on the appointment of the present chief Justice .