Malaysian Bar slams Umno for suggesting PM interferes in judiciary

(FMT) – The Malaysian Bar has lambasted politicians who make careless remarks on the judiciary that can seriously undermine the public’s confidence in the system of governance, urging them to refrain from bringing the country’s judiciary into disrepute.

Alluding to recent remarks by Barisan Nasional secretary-general Ahmad Maslan that one of the gripes that his party had with the Perikatan Nasional government was its decision to continue with court cases against Umno and certain leaders, the Bar hoped politicians will stop making such remarks.

“Such statements do not augur well for the rule of law.

“As aptly stated by the chief justice in her recent New Year message, the judiciary is not beholden to anybody or anything but the law.

“It is the duty of every Malaysian to protect the sacrosanct principles of independence of the judiciary from any encroachment of any partisan interests,” its president, Salim Bashir, said in a statement.

Ahmad had said that the cases against certain party leaders and members were said to be among the reasons for Umno’s discontent with the PN government.

Former prime minister Najib Razak weighed in by clarifying that Ahmad’s statement had specifically referred to forfeiture cases and compound fines imposed on various people, including those in the party. He said the PN government had failed to correct the abuse of power by the previous Pakatan Harapan administration.

Salim reminded politicians that the rule of law cannot be imposed by force or political decree and it was the duty of citizens to ensure this basic doctrine of a democratic nation is upheld.

“We therefore resist any notion to drag legal institutions into the political fray under the assumption that they can be used as a tool for political purposes,” he added.

Turning his attention to the role of the attorney-general as the country’s top public prosecutor, Salim said the office was the guardian of public interest.

“He or she must possess the utmost integrity and be allowed to exercise his or her constitutional rights and wisdom. This should be regardless of any political influence and motivation,” he said.

He said the time was ripe for the Bar to allay any misconceptions among the public by hastening its earlier proposal to separate the offices of the AG and the public prosecutor to ensure greater transparency.