Take the constitutional method to deal with judges, says Bar

Take the constitutional method to deal with judges, says Bar

The Malaysian Bar has joined the chorus of voices against any investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission into an appeals court judge, and said constitutional procedure should be followed instead.

Bar president Karen Cheah said the Constitution provided for complaints about alleged judicial misconduct to be handled in a manner that ensured continued public confidence in the judiciary.

However, a separate investigation by MACC acting on its own could give rise to the perception that judges would make decisions in order to avoid investigation by the authorities.

“It could further be perceived that judges are enforced to take steps to ensure that they do not antagonise the government,” she said, describing such a perception as being a disservice to faith in the rule of law.

Any MACC investigation, if carried out, would undermine the independence of the judiciary, and would be unconstitutional, she said in a statement tonight.

MACC said on Friday that it had opened an investigation paper following a report lodged about an unexplained sum of more than RM1 million in the bank account of Court of Appeal judge Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.

However, the anti-corruption agency did not say whether a full investigation would follow.

The fugitive blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, who revealed the investigation on Wednesday, also linked the money to Low Taek Jho or Jho Low, the businessman said to be the mastermind behind the 1MDB scandal.

Nazlan has since lodged a police report over the allegations, saying it was “false, baseless and malicious,” aimed at undermining his credibility as a judge.

Cheah said any investigation by MACC could create “an unsavoury precedent”, and have an adverse effect in the future in similar circumstances against the judiciary or individual judges.

She called for an investigation to be carried out into the police report lodged by Nazlan to prove that there was no double standard by authorities.

Separately, MACC was criticised by DAP chairman Lim Guan Eng for not “jumping” to investigate its chief commissioner Azam Baki over alleged ownership of shares and warrants worth millions of ringgit, as it did with the Nazlan report.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said the probe might be seen as a form of political pressure and interference, and a violation of the principle of separation of powers.

Nazlan was the judge who presided over the trial of former prime minister Najib Razak on charges relating to 1MDB.

He found Najib guilty on seven charges related to misappropriation of RM42 million of funds belonging to SRC International, then a 1MDB subsidiary. Najib was sentenced to 12 years’ jail and fined RM210 million. He later obtained a stay of execution pending the outcome of an appeal. FMT

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