Three independent minded judges who have made some rulings unfavorable to the Barisan Nasional government are expected to be transferred out of the High Court’s Appellate and Special Powers division soon. They are due to be moved to the High Court’s Commercial Division, where they will no longer be able to hear politically linked cases.
The three are Justice Datuk Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin, Justice Lau Bee Lan and Justice Mohamad Ariff Md Yusoff, according to the latest edition of Suara Keadilan, the official organ of Parti Keadilan Rakyat.
The paper quoted court insiders as saying that the judges will be transferred this month.
Justice Alizatul recently declared that Umno’s Abu Hassan Sarif was no longer the Kedah state assemblyman for Kota Siputeh and ordered the Election Commission to hold a by-election. An appeal is now pending against her judgment.
Justice Lau heard the case in which deposed Mentri Besar Mohammad Jamaluddin of Pakatan Rakyat challenged the legitimacy of his successor, Umno’s Zambry Abdul Kadir, and ruled that the Federal Court must determine four constitutional questions.
However, the Federal Court ordered that the case of who was the rightful Perak Menteri Besar should be heard by the High Court. The case was later heard by a new High Court judge who replaced Justice Lau without the public being given any reason given for the switch.
In what was seen as a stunning rebuff to the Barisan Nasional government and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s investigative procedures, Justice Mohamad Ariff recently ruled that MACC had no right to question witnesses in an investigation beyond normal office hours.
The judge also found that the MACC acted illegally when it detained Pakatan Rakyat’s Kajang town councillor Tan Boon Wah overnight at its Selangor head office in Shah Alam.
Suara Keadilan opines that the transfer of the three judges was an attempt by the Umno-led Barisan to strengthen its grip on the judiciary.
It says that one of the judges to be named to the Appellate and Special Powers Division is Justice Mohamed Apandi Ali, a former Kelantan Umno treasurer who was appointed Judicial Commissioner in 2003. Commenting on the expected transfer of the judges, lawyer Edmund Bon told Suara Keadilan that he and many of his colleagues were uneasy about the development.
He pointed out that there had not been a single complaint against any of the three judges throughout their service in the Appellate and Special Powers Division. Since no logical reason could be seen for the decision to move out the judges, he said, there was no escaping the perception that politics was behind it