KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 — The retention of judges past the mandatory retirement age is to prevent their expertise and experience from exiting the judiciary, said Datuk Razali Ibrahim today.
The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department added there was nothing untoward with returning senior judges such as Tan Sri Jeffrey Tan Kok Wha to the Federal Court on a contractual basis.
“It is not wrong to extend the (services of the) two or to appoint those who have retired.
“Meaning that it is done because we don’t want to waste that expertise, so they can give, share experience and expertise with judges, including in the country’s judicial system,” he said when winding-up debates on the Judges’ Remuneration (Amendment) Bill 2017.
Tan reportedly served beyond his retirement age of 66 when he was given a six-month extension and was brought back under a two-year contract last July 1.
Razali said the current legal limits on the number of judges for the Federal Court and the Court of Appeal are respectively 11 and 32, while the limit for High Court judges in peninsular Malaysia is 60 and 13 in east Malaysia.
Top posts such as for the Chief Justice of Malaysia post, the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, the Court of Appeal president and Chief Judge of Malaya remained filled, he said.
When asked by Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran to confirm that the Court of Appeal president and the Chief Judge of Malaya were given two-year extensions, Razali said he did not know and noted that the federal government is not privy to all the judiciary’s affairs due to the separation of powers.
Chief Justice of Malaysia Tun Arifin Zakaria had been due to retire last October, but will only retire tomorrow after a six-month extension with a successor-in-waiting.
He also said in September that two other senior judges will stay on for another six months after their initial retirement dates.
Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif and Chief Judge of the High Court of Malaya were initially due to retire when they reach the mandatory retirement age of 66 this February 4 and March 28 respectively.
Earlier during debates, Kulasegaran claimed the reappointment of retired judges created the perception that many among the existing judges were not qualified for senior positions.
“We have to think why really we need to appoint retired judges when (there are) judges who are qualified and should be promoted to the Federal Court but are sidelined, and only a few blue-eyed boys are elevated not only to the Federal Court but after retirement, they get contract (to extend),” Kulasegaran said.
He urged that the practice be stopped to prevent bias in the system.
Razali said there are currently no vacancies at the Federal Court, while five spots are open in the Court of Appeal.
As for the High Court, there are 10 vacancies, with six in peninsular Malaysia and four in east Malaysia. The posts of judicial commissioners — 32 in peninsular Malaysia, two in Sabah and four in Sarawak — have all been filled, he said.
On the number of undisposed cases before the courts, Razali said there are a total of 1,050 criminal and civil cases pending at the Federal Court, 2,281 civil cases and 769 criminal cases at the Court of Appeal, as well as 51,697 civil cases and 3,863 criminal cases at the High Court.