Monday, September 3, 2007

Civics 2: Independence of the Judiciary


In the 1970s, and many say even earlier back in the 1960s, 1950s and 1940s, the quality of education, including English, especially in Mission schools, which were run by missionaries or churches was high. Even though initially in those years, there was little state interference in these schools, students learnt to be loving true Sarawakians and later following independence, Malaysians.

BROTHER COOL: Okay, class-if you recall, in our Civics 1 class you learnt about Malaysia's unique elected monarchy.It wasn't much but it will do as I do have this obviously rather extraordinary assortment of you folks here. It's so representative of the marvelous, marvelous diverse races in this country.

Today, I'm continuing the lessons taken from the government-authorized textbooks of the 1970s-Albert! Will you please stop fiddling with your formulae on the blackboard?! Sit down and listen!-
Secondary Civics for Malaysia, Book 4. Just before I go into it, let me remind you I have faith in what is written: if any of this groovy accurate stuff I teach ever get changed or modified by the powers that be-I don't mean God but man-remember all my messages-keep the faith, pray and take action. Go out and vote! Make your voices heard! Blog, blog, blog and tell the -

FRANKINSTEIN: Uh...uh...Excuse me, Sir-our Civics lessons?

BROTHER COOL: Huh??!! Civics? Ah, yes... yes...-the topic today as you can see on page 36 is "An independent judiciary, and the rights and duties of citizens".

Socrates, an ancient Greek philosopher, once said this about a good judge:
"Four things belong to a judge: to hear courteously, to answer wisely, to consider soberly and to decide impartially".

All these qualities are requisite to, and expected in, all judges. They must be free from all extraneous kinds of pressure to exercise their judgement for the good of all-political, governmental, economic and others. To ensure that such is the case, the Constitution of Malaysia provides for the disassociation of powers. While it is the function of parliament to legislate, and the Government to execute enactments, it is the duty of the judiciary to explain and interpret laws, settle lawsuits and punish lawbreaking. And to secure the full independence of the Judiciary, the Constitution imposes certain conditions on the appointment, tenure and renumeration of judges.

The Yang diPertuan Agong appoints all federal and High Court justices as advised by the Prime Minister, who, in turn, must have consulted the Chief Justices and the Lord President, except in the case of the appointment of the Lord President. The appointment of the other judges is also made on the advice of the Chief Justices concerned. Thus the Judiciary has a certain say in the appointment of its own members.

It also has a very substantial say in the removal of its members from office. Their removal may be effected only after the Yang diPertuan Agong has decided to accept the recommendation of dismissal by a special tribunal, which comprises at least five High Court justices. The tribunal must have satisfied itself that the judges concerned have been found guilty of misbehaviour, or of being unable to discharge their functions of office.

Now, before we go into the powers of the judiciary, here's a no-brainer question: what's the supreme law of this land?

INDINNA JONES: Sir! The Constitution?

BROTHER COOL: You'r dead right, son. Remember this about our Constitution...


BROTHER COOL: Let's continue this constitution matter in the next class! Now you beautiful creatures of God go home and revise hard: ravellers-don't spend too much of your time boogieing and dancing the night away; nerds -don't burn the midnight oil too often!

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