New government must entirely remove the power of PM to advise King on appointment of judges by amending Article 122B of the Constitution
1 December 2022
We refer to the statement released by the Conference of Rulers yesterday which proposed the removal of the Prime Minister’s power to appoint the five representatives to the nine-member Judicial Appointment Commission (JAC).
We welcome this suggestion by the Conference of Rulers, which helps uphold the independence of the judiciary.
The current system where the Prime Minister appoints the majority of the members of the JAC gives him substantial influence on the JAC.
However, just taking away the PM’s power to appoint members of the JAC will not ensure judicial independence and real separation of powers. Under Article 122B of the Constitution, the PM still retains the ultimate power to advise the King on whom to appoint to the Federal Court, Court of Appeal and High Courts. In short, the PM need not accept the recommendations of the JAC. This great influence of the executive over the judiciary must be entirely removed to ensure judicial independence and integrity.
The new coalition government has the two thirds majority in the Dewan Rakyat required to amend Article 122B of the Constitution to entirely remove the PM’s role in appointing judges and allow the JAC to advise the King directly.
New PM Anwar Ibrahim and Pakatan Harapan have long promised to uphold democracy and rule of law, and institute wide-ranging reform if they capture federal power. Now is the time to walk the talk.
We urge Anwar Ibrahim and the new government to table a bill to amend Article 122B of the Constitution as well as the JAC Act 2009 at the first sitting of the new parliament commencing on 19 December 2022. There can be no reason for a ‘reformist’ Prime Minister to delay these crucial measures.
Lawyers for Liberty