|The Dewan Rakyat was informed today that an emergency motion to debate the proposed appointment of Zaki Azmi as the new chief justice was rejected on the grounds that such a motion breached provisions against discussing the behavior or character of senior judges.
Deputy Speaker Wan Junaidi Tuaku Jaafar (left) said the motion, submitted by Salahuddin Ayub (PAS-Kubang Kerian) last week, was rejected in Chambers as both 36(8) of the Standing Orders and Article 127 of the Federal Constitution forbids the legislature from discussing the conduct or character of High Court, Court of Appeal or Federal Court judges.
The only way such a motion can succeed in being tabled is as a substantive motion and must have the support of no less than one-quarters of the total number of members of Parliament, he said.
Wan Junaidi also cited the book ‘Document of Destiny‘ written by constitutional expert Shad Saleem Faruqi on the Federal Constitution to support his stand on the insulation and immunity of judges from “politically-inspired criticisms.”
Zaki (left) is currently Court of Appeal president and was nominated by the Conference of Rulers last week as the country’s top judge to replace Abdul Hamid Mohamad.
His rise up the judicial ranks from a corporate lawyer after being appointed by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s administration over a score of more senior judges met with outcry from several quarters due to his affiliations with Umno, including having been its legal advisor.
Supporting the call for the motion to be debated, independent MP (Pasir Mas) Ibrahim Ali said this is preferable to the government letting it spread on the Internet as public fodder for its detractors and thereby become a liability.
“If it is rejected in chambers and the motion spreads outside (this Dewan), it will have negative results (for the government),” said the MP.
‘Tendency to reject’
Ibrahim also expressed disappointment with what he described as the ‘tendency’ of the speaker and deputy speakers – unlike their predecessors – to reject in Chambers motions submitted to them.
“It is disappointing, like losing a girlfriend. I am trying to help this Dewan … I myself in previous parliamentary sittings have lost motivation (due to the rejection of many motions),” he said.
Chipping in, veteran politician Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur) said tabling the motion under Standing Order 27 as a substantive one would relegate it to the bottom of Parliament orders of the day and ensure it is not discussed at all.
“It would go to the bottom of the list and up to the last day will not see the light of day,” he said.
Responding to Ibrahim’s contention that most motions have been rejected in Chambers, the deputy speaker said he would discuss the matter with Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia.
However, Wan Junaidi was adamant on the issue of Zaki being a no-go area for the time being.
“When it has to do with (Standing Order) 36(8), there can be no compromise because it ties in with the Federal Constitution and the Standing Orders… The issue of (it being a matter of) Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat politics does not rise in this matter,” he said.
During a press conference later, Salahuddin said he would raise the Zaki matter in his debate speech on the 2009 Budget.