Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohamad was finally confirmed as the Chief Justice on 5th December 2007 while Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi was appointed as the President of the Court of Appeal which is traditionally regarded as the second highest position in the Judicial system.
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who made the announcement in a statement, said both appointments had been consented to by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin upon his advice after consultation with the Conference of Rulers.
The appointments would only serve to weaken the public confidence in the already tarnished image of the Judicial System which is currently facing its worst crisis since the days of Tun Salleh Abbas especially with the Lingam tapes controversy still remained unsolved.
My previous blog on the matter questioned the decision of the government in appointing a lawyer who closely associated with the ruling party directly to be a Federal Court judge without undergoing the normal due process of service and experience as a High Court Judge. My earlier fear that the government will take it a step further by appointing Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi as the second in command to pave the way for him to be the next Chief Justice when Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohamad retires in 2008 has now turned to reality.
The facts are:-
Fact 1 – Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi made history on 5th September, 2007 by being the first lawyer to be appointed directly to the Federal Court without serving as a Judge in any capacity by passing at total 48 High Court Judges and 21 Court of Appeal Judges.
Fact 2 – Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi was appointed the President of the Court of Appeals on 5th December, 2007 exactly 2 months after being appointed as a Federal Court Judge, by passing the Chief Judge of the High Court for Peninsular Malaysia, the Chief Judge of the High Court for Sabah & Sarawak and 7 other Federal Court Judges.
Fact 3 – With the appointment as the President of the Court of Appeal, Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi will be the next in line to succeed Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohamad who is due to retire on 17th April 2008. If the inevitable (as far as the government is concerned) happens, then we will have a new Chief Justice on 18th April 2008 who became a Judge for only 7 months 15 days.
Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi may have proven him-self to be an excellent lawyer but is the experience of two months as a Judge sufficient for someone to be promoted to be the number two position in the country’s Judicial System.
If the inevitable happens on 18th April 2008, then will an experience of 7 months 15 days as a Judge, be good enough for someone to be appointed as the Chief Justice of the country?
No matter how much P.R. work is being done by the government, the appointment just does not make sense.
What about the feelings of the other 57 Judges who were bypassed, some of whom may have served their life time on the bench. Would they give Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi the respect necessary for the position?
Where would justice stand when there are such questionable appointments?