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Najib: We'll ensure independence of judiciary PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 19 July 2011 21:24

KUALA LUMPUR: The government is committed to safeguarding and ensuring the continued independence of the judiciary.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said yesterday this was one of the most important things for the nation.
"An independent judiciary is one of the most important reasons for our national achievement. It is a central component of our democracy."

Najib acknowledged that the nation's judiciary had experienced a fair measure of accolades and controversies since the nation achieved its independence, but stressed that measures were immediately taken to fortify the safeguards of judicial independence.

In his speech at the Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Conference, read by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, he said Malaysia had introduced judicial reforms that had improved the efficiency of its courts.

He said judicial reform was important to ensure the country's continued economic growth, and to protect civil liberties and freedom of its diverse, multi-ethnic and multi-religious population.

"Strengthening the judiciary as an institution is a continuously evolving process. In Malaysia, a pluralist society, it is critical that the courts meet the needs of its citizenry, by improving and increasing access to justice.

"We have heralded a comprehensive list of reforms that have drastically improved the efficiency of the Malaysian courts."

Najib also said the challenge for the government was to craft a vision in which people could live together harmoniously while at the same time being able to maintain, rather than dilute or lose, a strong sense of belonging to their particular culture, ethnic or religious community.

"As a nation, we recognise that the state or government plays a crucial role in the management of pluralism through the formulation of policies, fostering an environment conducive to the national vision and creating a framework for national dialogue," he said.

Later at a press conference, Nazri took potshots at opposition members of parliament who took to the streets on July 9 to bring up their concerns, saying they should have brought them up in Parliament.

"I am surprised that those who attended the rally were MPs, as though they are not allowed to debate on the Election Commission (EC) in the House that they have to resort to demonstrating on the streets.

"What's wrong with them? They are elected and they are allowed to speak in Parliament, but I didn't hear them say anything (on this)."

He stressed that the government was also committed to free and fair elections.

He said he would leave it to the EC to decide whether the commission wanted to include representatives from non-governmental organisations in its decision-making process.

"It's up to the EC to make the decision, they are an independent body. If they are okay with it, then we have no problem."

On another matter, Nazri reiterated that the cabinet had agreed to make public the report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) which looked into the death of political aide Teoh Beng Hock.

However, he will leave it to the chief secretary to the government to decide when to publish it.

Teoh, 30, the former political aide to Selangor executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, was found dead on July 16, 2009 after giving his statement to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

The RCI was set up after the coroner's inquest into his death ruled out suicide and homicide as the cause.

Nazri said the recommendations would be made known to the ministers once it was made public.

Present at the conference were Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi, Commonwealth Magistrates' and Judges' Association (CMJA) president Justice Norma Wade Miller, CMJA vice-president Sir Philip Bailhache and the legal fraternity from the Commonwealth countries