Raus Sharif must quit as CJ with immediate effect & not wait until 31 July, in view of his record of anti-fundamental rights decisions
23 June 2018
We refer to resignation of Tan Sri Raus Sharif as Chief Justice, which is set to take effect on 31 July 2018.
This post-dated resignation came amid widespread calls for Raus to quit, on grounds that his and Tan Sri Zulkifili Makinudin’s extension of tenure as CJ and President of the Court of Appeal were illegal.
However, this is not the only reason why Raus must depart from office.
During his tenure as President of Court of Appeal and CJ, Raus systematically failed to uphold the fundamental rights of Malaysians. A series of his judgements bear witness to this.
Raus ruled in favour of the government in most cases where the BN threatened the basic rights of the people through executive action or legislation.
His judgments can only be described as being strongly anti-human rights.
They go against the spirit of our democratic constitution, in which fundamental freedoms were guaranteed and given pride of place.
They also militate against constitutional developments and the judicial trend throughout the modern commonwealth.
His judgments were regressive, and had the clear effect of upholding the excesses and transgressions of the then BN regime.
A glaring example would be the Federal Court’s decision in the infamous Sodomy 2 appeal, in which a bench consisting of Raus and other judges sent Anwar Ibrahim to prison for 5 years. This decision shocked right-thinking Malaysians and was globally condemned. It shattered further the ailing reputation of our country’s judiciary.
In Public Prosecutor v Yuneswaran (2015), Raus also overturned the landmark decision in the earlier case of PP v Nik Nazmi, which had struck down the oppressive 10 day notice requirement for public assemblies. Raus’ reversal of the earlier decision led to a spate of opposition and civil society leaders being investigated, charged or re-charged under the Peaceful Assembly Act ( PAA ).
Similarly, in activist Safwan Anang’s case, Raus as the presiding judge threw out a constitutional challenge on the oppressive PAA without even hearing the merits. No matter involving important questions of constitutional rights should ever be dismissed willy-nilly by the appellate court.
One of the worst blows against the public’s right to freedom of speech was delivered by the Federal Court in PP v Azmi Shahrom (2015) which was decided by a bench including Raus. In this anti-human rights decision, the notorious colonial-era Sedition Act was upheld as valid. This paved the way for the sedition trials of opposition and civil society leaders to continue, and for more government critics to be charged. It had a chilling effect on freedom of speech.
Raus also dismissed applications by the opposition-led Selangor state government over the re-delineation challenges brought against illegal gerrymandering by the BN government.
In the recent case of Director of Forests, Sarawak v Sandah ak Tabau (2017), Raus in his judgment dealt a deadly blow to the customary rights of indigenous peoples. He inexplicably reversed the landmark case of Sagong Tasi which had upheld such rights. This opened up indigenous peoples to further oppression and deprivation of livelihood by the BN state and federal governments. Justice Zainun Ali bravely wrote a dissenting judgment against Raus’ majority judgment.
It was a manifesto promise of the new PH government to the Malaysian people, that they will restore public trust in the judicial institution.
The restoration of the judiciary’s repute and standing, which had suffered terribly under BN rule, obviously cannot happen while Raus, with his dismal record, still remains the CJ.
It is completely baffling as to why Raus chose to post-date his resignation to 31 July, instead of leaving with immediate effect.
By hanging on to office, he hampers and obstructs the recovery of the judiciary as a whole.
We urge Tan Sri Raus Sharif, in the national interest, to resign as Chief Justice with immediate effect.
Lawyers for Liberty