The Malaysian Judiciary

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The Malaysian Judiciary is headed by the Chief Justice (formerly called the Lord President). The President heads the Court of Appeal whilst two Chief Judges head the High Courts in Malaya and Sabah and Sarawak. They also sit in the Federal Court, the apex court in Malaysia, together currently with two other Federal Court judges. The President of the Court of Appeal and the Chief Judges of the High Courts shall be responsible to the Chief Justice.

A person is qualified for appointment as a judge of the Federal Court, as a judge of the Court of Appeal or as a judge of any of the High Courts if-

a. he is a citizen; and
b. for the 10 years preceding his appointment he has been an advocate of those courts or any of them or a member of the judicial and legal service of the Federation or of the legal service of a State, or sometimes one and sometimes another.

Under Article 122B of the Malaysian Constitution, the appointment of the Chief Justice, like those of the President of Court of Appeal, the two Chief Judges, judges of the Federal Court, the Court of Appeal and the High Court, are made by His Majesty The Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the Prime Minister after consulting the Conference of Rulers.

However, before tendering his advice as to the appointment of a judge other than the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, the Prime Minister shall consult the Chief Justice,. As regards the appointment of the Chief Judge of a High Court, the Prime Minister shall consult the Chief Judge of each of the High Courts and, if the appointment is to the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak, the Chief Minister of each of the States of Sabah and Sarawak. Further, before tendering his advice as to the appointment of a judge other than the Chief Justice, President or a Chief Judge, the Prime Minister shall consult, if the appointment is to the Federal Court, the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, if the appointment is to the Court of Appeal, the President of the Court of Appeal and, if the appointment is to one of the High Courts, the Chief Judge of that Court. The Prime Minister is also entitled to advise His Majesty The Yang di-Pertuan Agong after consulting the Chief Justice as respects the order of precedence among the judges notwithstanding the dates of their respective appointments as judges of the Federal Court, of the Court of Appeal or of the High Courts.

On the advice of the Chief Justice, His Majesty The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may also appoint a person who has held high judicial office in Malaysia to be an additional judge of the Federal Court. The Chief Justice may also, if the interests of justice so require, nominate a Court of Appeal Judge to sit as a Judge of the Federal Court.

All judges of the Superior Courts retire at the age of 65. However, the validity of anything done by a judge of the Federal Court shall not be questioned on the ground that he had attained the age at which he was required to retire.

A judge of the Federal Court may at any time resign his office by writing under his hand addressed to His Majesty The Yang di-Pertuan Agong but he shall not be removed from office except in accordance with Article 125 of the Malaysian Constitution.

Article 125(3) provides that if the Prime Minister, or the Chief Justice after consulting the Prime Minister, represents to His Majesty The Yang di-Pertuan Agong that a judge of the Federal Court ought to be removed on the ground of any breach of any provision of the code of ethics prescribed under Article 125(3A) or on the ground of inability, from infirmity of body or mind or any other cause, properly to discharge the functions of his office, His Majesty The Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall appoint a tribunal in accordance with Article 125(4) and refer the representation to it; and may on the recommendation of the tribunal remove the judge from office. However, pending any reference and report under Article 125(3) His Majesty The Yang di- Pertuan Agong may on the recommendation of the Prime Minister and, in the case of any other judge after consulting the Chief Justice, suspend a judge of the Federal Court from the exercise of his functions.

The Attorney General

Article 145 of the Malaysian Constitution provides that His Majesty The Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall, on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint a person who is qualified to be a judge of the Federal Court to be the Attorney General for the Federation.

It shall be the duty of the Attorney General to advise His Majesty The Yang di- Pertuan Agong or the Cabinet or any Minister upon such legal matters, and to perform such other duties of a legal character, as may from time to time be referred or assigned to him by His Majesty The Yang di-Pertuan Agong or the Cabinet, and to discharge the functions conferred on him by or under this Constitution or any other written law.

The Attorney General shall have power, exercisable at his discretion, to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence, other than proceedings before a Syariah court, a native court or a court-martial. In the performance of his duties the Attorney General shall have the right of audience in, and shall take precedence over any other person appearing before, any court or tribunal in the Federation.

The Attorney General shall hold office during the pleasure of His Majesty The Yang di-Pertuan Agong and may at any time resign his office and, unless he is a member of the Cabinet, shall receive such remuneration as His Majesty The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may determine.