Friday, December 07, 2007

Nazri defends Zaki's appointment

B.Suresh RamKUALA LUMPUR (Dec 6, 2007):

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz defended the fast track elevation of Federal Court Judge Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi as the Court of Appeal President.

He said Zaki, who was appointed to the position within three months after being made a judge, is not something new.

This was because former Chief Justice of Malaya Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah went up in similar fashion, said Nazri to reporters in Parliament lobby today.

"Are there any laws against doing that (fast tracking judges elevation)?" he asked.
To a question that the fast track elevation of the former Umno Disciplinary (Technical) Committee chairman over other more established judges would prove to be controversial, Nazri said: "The matter should be (the) concern of the judges (judiciary) and not the public."

On Zaki’s past association with Umno, Nazri said his association was in relation to the disciplinary committee proceedings and responsibility in the Barisan Nasional component party.
"He was never a state executive, elected representative or even a division head or an Umno branch head for the matter of fact," Nazri said.

Nazri added that Zaki was roped into helping Umno based on his past performance as a lawyer and his integrity as a person.

DAP chairman Karpal Singh said the appointment of Zaki has caused apprehension among lawyers in the country.

He said this apprehension comes from the fact that Zaki was a legal adviser of Umno and headed the party’s disciplinary before the appointment. Karpal, himself a senior lawyer, said the appointment should have been made based on the seniority of judges.

"There will always be a shadow of doubt whether there will be independence (when it comes to Zaki) due to his close association with Umno," he said, adding Zaki should prove that his decisions would not be influenced by Umno.

On Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohamed being confirmed as the new Chief Justice, Karpal welcomed the move, adding that the country’s new top judge has inherited a judiciary which is in crisis. "I believe Hamid can restore public confidence on judiciary."

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