KUALA LUMPUR — Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum has the seniority and qualities suitable for the position of chief justice of Malaysia, retired judges said.
Retired Court of Appeal judge Datuk Seri Mohd Hishamudin Yunus said Malanjum was suitable for the position as it was time he moved up from his service as a judge.
“He is a very senior judge. It is high time that he moves up to fit in the chief justice position.
“He is the most senior in terms of years of service as a judge. He is even more senior than Raus,” he told Malay Mail, referring to Chief Justice Tun Raus Sharif.
Malanjum was made a judicial commissioner and a High Court judge in March 1992 and 1993, respectively.
He became a Court of Appeal judge in August 2002, and in June 2005, became the youngest Federal Court judge at the age of 52.
Mohd Hishamudin said the appointment of Malanjum, who was born in Sabah, would be good for the country, confirming that there has “never before” been a Malaysian from Sabah or Sarawak appointed as the chief justice.
“To appoint him as the chief justice is a recognition to a judge coming from east Malaysia and it’s good when you talk about integration between east and west Malaysia,” he said.
Mohd Hishamudin said he believed the appropriate person to take over the place of Tan Sri Zulkefli Makinudin as the Court of Appeal president should be Tan Sri Zainun Ali.
Zainun, a senior Federal Court judge, is known for her landmark ruling in the case of M. Indira Gandhi, who challenged the conversion of her three children to Islam by her ex-husband.
Mohd Hishamudin praised her judgments as “bold statements regarding the Constitution”, in particular the doctrine of the separation of powers, the independence of the judiciary, and the basic structure of the Federal Constitution.
Zainun was appointed judicial commissioner and a High Court judge in August 1996 and on Oct 1, 1998, respectively, and became Court of Appeal judge on July 28, 2007, and Federal Court judge on April 4, 2012.
Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof, a retired Court of Appeal judge, similarly suggested that Malanjum and Zainun as suitable candidates.
“This nation needs persons of competence and integrity who will be expected to be fair and impartial in the discharge of judicial duties who can make a positive imprint on the development of Malaysian law,” he told Malay Mail.
He said Zainun is a senior judge, adding that “she has written very high quality judgments of an international standard. We want someone who can advance the law”.