UPDATE (10 August 2007):
Rebuttal from Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim on the Council of Rulers' Rejection of Govt's Nominee for Chief Judge of Malaya
"... Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim today said the opinion of the King and the Conference of Rulers are NOT binding on the Prime Minister.
“Under the (Federal) Constitution, the Prime Minister consults ME (on such appointments) while the King consults the Conference of Rulers. Ultimately, the decider is still the Prime Minister because the King acts on the advice of the Prime Minister,” he told reporters.
However, Ahmad Fairuz was unable to confirm if the Conference of Rulers had indeed rejected Abdullah’s candidate for the CJM post, the third highest rank in the judiciary, because he was merely consulted in the process.
Read here for more
" ... The vacancy isn’t because there aren’t candidates. All eight of the sitting federal court judges are qualified, as well as judges from either the Court of Appeal or the High Court.
However, sources in Malaysia’s legal community say, an unnamed candidate was picked (by Govt) over THREE MORE senior judges.... " Read here for more
-Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob in Asia Sentinel
---End of Update ---
Excerpts: Read here full article by Hamdan Ibrahim "Kudos to the sultans"
The Conference of Rulers in a rare move has rejected the government’s choice for the position of Chief Judge of Malaya - the judiciary’s No 3 post.
The position of Chief Judge of Malaya has been vacant for seven months since Siti Norma Yaakob - the first woman to hold the post - retired in early this year.
There has been growing concerns in the legal fraternity that relatively junior judges are being promoted over their more senior colleagues within the judiciary.
One doesn’t have to have a legal mind to know that there is something wrong in the judiciary if the chief judge of Malaya’s post - the judiciary’s No 3 - is still vacant after more than six months.
And that the government’s choice to fill it has been rejected by the Conference of Rulers.
Malaysian must be thankful to our rulers who seem to be listening to the common grouses of their ‘rakyat’ and are doing something to rectify the maladies which affect our country.
By making their stand, it shows that our rulers are NOT puppets of the government and are willing to reject government proposals which are not good for the nation’s interest.
A constitutional crisis is in the making if the present regime doesn’t change its mind and replace its choice for the top judicial post. After all, judges are supposed to be the conscience of the nation and they must be firm and fair in their decisions and not be beholden to anybody - especially the executive - when delivering their decisions.
The Sultan of Perak, a former Lord President of our country, must have the interests of the judiciary at heart, I’m sure.
Nearly 20 years after the judicial crisis which destroyed public confidence in one of the three branches of government, it is about time the selection of judges should be made on merit and the top judges be appointed based on seniority and on unblemished records.
The Raja Muda of Perak has already spoken his mind on immoral politicians who lack honesty and integrity saying they should make way for new blood who have better visions in the next polls.
This wake-up call by the Crown Prince should send shivers down the spines of corrupt politicians who intend to stand again in the coming elections.
There seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel with regards to the problems besetting our country as our rulers are making a stand.
By rejecting the government choice of the new chief judge of Malaya, they have made their voice heard. Although the government will not listen to the dissenting voices of the public, it will be difficult for them to ignore royal sentiments.
Other state rulers, who are protectors of the common people, should emulate the Crown Prince of Perak. (They) whisper slowly to their states chief executives about the widespread of graft and abuse of power by those holding the fort which has resulted in the ordinary man and facing a hard time.
We the voters should also play our part in making our country great again by using our vote wisely in the coming polls.
Let’s throw out those politicians who have accumulated ill-gotten gains for their themselves and families.
‘Daulat Tuanku, Daulat Tuanku, Daulat Tuanku’.
May the Conference of Rulers’ brave decision spur the government of the day to amend their ways failing which the wrath of the suffering voters will benefit the oppositions in the coming polls.
"... it was at least partly a payback for 20 years of resentment on the part of the country’s Royalty against the Government.
The position of chief judge, the judiciary’s third-ranking post, has been vacant for seven months. The vacancy isn’t because there aren’t candidates. All eight of the sitting federal court judges are qualified, as well as judges from either the Court of Appeal or the High Court.
However, sources in Malaysia’s legal community say, an unnamed candidate who was picked over three more senior judges caused the Sultans to balk, reasserting their power for the first time since 1983.
Prior to 1983, the Agung, or king, the nominal head of state, had the power to veto certain types of legislation in the parliament. Mahathir pushed through legislation that took away the king's veto power. Later in the 1980s, other legislations... took more power away from the sultans.
The government has maintained a studied silence on the impasse due to the threat of a constitutional crisis.
The nine hereditary sultans who make up the Conference of Rulers, are supposed to be consulted on certain government appointments, including the judiciary. Until the current impasse, they have been regarded as a rubber stamp for government decisions.
But several new conditions have suddenly come to the fore, including the questioning by police of Raja Petra Kamaruddin, a member of the Selangor royal family, over his weblog, Malaysia Today, on allegations that he had insulted Islam and the government. The sultanates took the inquiry as an insult to them.
Raja Petra roared back with a vitriolic attack on the former chief minister of Selangor, the federal district surrounding Kuala Lumpur, charging him with a series of financial misdeeds and other issues.
And as the country has modernized, the sultans’ presence in everyday life is largely confined to the kampungs, or villages, outside urban areas. They are venerated in much the same way European royalty is venerated, but they have little political power.
Polls show that minorities, especially Chinese, which make up about 25 percent of the population, are increasingly disenchanted because of Abdullah Badawi’s inability to quell rising Malay nationalism.
Against that backdrop, the royal families have been growing restive, especially as Malaysia’s delicate ethnic situation has continued to deteriorate.
Raja Nazrin, the crown prince of Perak, a graduate of Harvard and Oxford, has been particularly active. He has delivered a series of speeches advocating democracy and liberalism and has won the adoration of Malaysia’s fierce blogging community.
The impasse over the judicial appointment has become the fulcrum of this discontent.
The prime minister reportedly has met with Perak Sultan Azlan Shah in an attempt to resolve the matter. It appears increasingly likely that Badawi will be forced to back down on his candidate, who hasn’t been named publicly. The names of candidates are protected under Malaysia’s draconian Official Secrets Act.
Meanwhile, the post of the Court of Appeal president - the judiciary's second highest official is also vacant following the death of Malek Ahmad two months ago.