LETTER

Why is a probationary judge hearing Mongolian case?

JTB

13 Mar 2007, 9:35 am

Updated 13 years ago

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Members of the public sometimes are confused the difference between judges and judicial commissioners (JC). Sometimes we read in the press that judicial commissioners are now made full-fledged judges. Of course, there is a difference between a full-fledged judge and a JC in terms of their appointment.

After having tried them out over a period of time, the JC's contract may be extended or appointed as a full-fledged judge. Obviously, the position of JCs is probationary in nature before they are made full judges. If they fail during the probation period, they are not confirmed.

The point that I am making is this - these JCs are new and are inexperienced. Within the legal fraternity, they are known as 'judge cubaan'. The case against Abdul Razak Baginda and the police officers involves the issue of life and death of several individuals.

When it was in the hands of senior judge KN Segara, no one would quibble about his competency to hear the case. Now we have judicial commissioner Mohd Zaki Md Yasin coming out from nowhere to hear a high profile case of this nature. The Malaysian public would like to see justice being served and whatever reasons - administrative or otherwise - cannot possibly justify the removal of a senior judge to hear the case and is now left in the hands of a judicial commissioner.

Karpal Singh, the lawyer for the victim's family, should have told Mohd Zaki Md Yasin that as a JC, he does not have enough experience to hear the case, and that he should disqualify himself from the matter.

Mr Chief Justice, on such an important matter, I suggest you confine your JC to assisting justice KN Segara to clear his existing cases. Getting a JC to hear this high profile case will not help promote an already battered image of the judiciary.