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Teks Ucapan
Ucapan Ketua Hakim Negara
"Opening of the Legal Year 2010"
Oleh
Ketua Hakim Negara
YAA Tun Dato’ Seri Zaki Bin Tun Azmi
 
Bismillahirrahmanirahim

Assalamualaikum,

Selamat Pagi and a very good morning to all.

Salutations:
Honorable Judges, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

‘Welcome to the PICC, this eagle like structure, which the Chief Registrar and her team had managed to successfully or otherwise convert into a pseudo court room’.
Bagi pihak Badan Kehakiman, saya dengan gembiranya mengucapkan selamat datang ke Pembukaan Tahun Perundangan Malaysia buat pertama kali setelah sekian lama.

1. Ketika perasmian Majlis Pembukaan Tahun Perundangan ini di Kota Kinabalu sekitar Januari tahun lepas, saya ada menyatakan dalam ucapan saya bahawa majlis seperti ini perlu dikembalikan dan diadakan di peringkat Kebangsaan. Selepas satu tahun, saya amat berbangga untuk berdiri di sini dan menyatakan bahawa INILAH masanya yang dinanti-nantikan.

2. Majlis sebegini biasanya dilakukan di dalam Mahkamah terbuka, namun oleh kerana kita tidak mempunyai ruang Mahkamah yang besar, majlis ini perlu diadakan di sini bagi menempatkan semua tetamu yang hadir.

3. Saya difahamkan bahawa dahulu, majlis Pembukaan Tahun Perundangan pernah diadakan tetapi saya tidak dapat mencari rekodnya. Majlis seperti ini telah diadakan di Singapura dan di Sabah dan Sarawak sekian lama sehingga sekarang. Saya amat berharap agar Majlis ini akan menjadi tradisi yang dikekalkan. Saya amat menghargai sokongan anda semua yang dapat dinilai daripada kehadiran anda pada pagi ini.

4. We are particularly honoured by the presence of The Right Honorable Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong of Singapore, the Right Honorable Chief Justice Dato’ Seri Paduka Awang Haji Kifrawi bin Dato’ Paduka Haji Kifli of Brunei, the Right Honorable Chief Justice Robert J. Torres of Guam and Mr. Michael Hwang, President of Singapore Law Society.

5. We are also happy that lawyers from all over Malaysia, including Sabah and Sarawak are here today to give their support.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

6. I am made to understand from the internet that historically, the opening of the legal year ceremony in the UK was closely related to religion. It dated back to the Middle Ages when judges prayed for guidance at the start of a legal term. In London, judges, whose courts were held in Westminster Hall, used to walk for two miles to take part in the service. After the ceremony the Lord Chancellor would offer the judges some food to break their fast before they took their seats in courts, hence the term ‘breakfast’. In our weather, we will be sweating in our robes if we were to do the same. At present, the ceremony in the UK is still similar albeit that the judges now travel by car, as we had just done after a photography session at the Palace of Justice. For us, this was not to represent the march but just a faster means of transportation from the Palace of Justice to here.

7. Today the main reason for having our Opening Legal Year is to bring together members of the legal fraternity and those connected with it. Lawyers in the eyes of the lay person are always acting in opposition when they appear in court. The public inadvertently perceive that the Bar views the AG Chambers and the Judiciary as obstructions to their goal whilst the AG Chambers sees the Bar as a thorn in its flesh. Little do the public know that in our honourable profession, lawyers standing in opposition to each other before a judge do not treat their opposition as enemies. Rather, they are just fulfilling their duties without emotional involvement. Although they argue against each other, they usually feel proud for having the opportunity to contribute towards justice. They are all, in fact, part of the court.

8. But today, we are not here to argue, criticize, submit or object against each other. At this gathering we are all here as a show of unity! Lawyers had been the fighters for freedom. They fight for the liberty of the innocent and to punish the wrongdoers. Lawyers make law by the cases they bring to Court. Lawyers argue what the law is. Judges decide. Each decision is a step towards development of the law. We act together towards ensuring that justice is delivered to the people. That is our duty. We do what we do best for a common goal and our common goal is justice. To quote a judge:

“I am unable to conceive… that in a democracy, it can ever be unwise to acquaint the public with the truth about the workings of any branch of government. It is wholly undemocratic to treat the public as children who are unable to accept the inescapable shortcomings of man-made institutions… The best way to bring about the elimination of those shortcomings of our judicial system which are capable of being eliminated is to have all our citizens informed as to how that system now functions. It is a mistake, therefore, to try to establish and maintain, through ignorance, public esteem for our courts.” (Judge Jerome Frank (Courts on Trial)
In modern terminology that is “Transparency”.

9. On this subject of working together, there was a proposal to set up a Law Academy a few years ago. It did not come through. I thought I would mention it again today hoping perhaps it could be relooked into as a healthy way to allow the Bench and the Bar to maintain a healthy intellectual and social relationship.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

10. In February last year the Parliament passed the Judicial Appointment Commission Act. It makes life for the CJ easier now as he has others to discuss before putting up any appointment of a superior court judge. As a matter of practice the views of the JAC are also sought regarding elevation of JCs. I am also happy to reaffirm the practice of getting the views of the Attorney General and the President of the respective Bar regarding any candidate. I take this opportunity now to say, that in this respect of consultation and in every other aspect, I believe the relationship between the Judiciary and the AG Chambers and the Bar Council and Law Associations of Sabah and Sarawak cannot be better than it is now! I am extremely happy!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

11. Our Courts had for so long as I can remember have been faced with backlogs and delays of disposal of cases. This has caused injustice to a lot of innocent parties. As has been widely publicized, throughout 2009, the Judiciary has taken active and bold steps in overcoming these delays and expediting the disposal of cases. That was and is still our main priority. Over and over again, the public has been crying for speedy justice. The Judiciary’s top management realizes that we can never change without the support from the AG Chambers, the Bar and all who have anything to do with the Courts.

12. During last year, as the relevant parties are quite well aware, numerous meetings and discussions have been held between the Bench, the Bar as well as the Attorney General’s Chambers. My door is practically open for the Attorney General or his officers as well as the President of the Bar Council, Law Associations or any State Committee to discuss with me the problems that their members are facing.

13. I repeat, a healthy relationship has been fostered and I am confident it will continue.

14. A discussion is an easier way to solve a problem than by way of an EGM in a big hall. Some view the recent EGM by the Bar Council as an affront against the Judiciary. I however view that meeting as being an avenue where disgruntled members can air their views and the Council be given an opportunity to explain. Whatever could not be explained could then be brought to my attention. Audi Alterem Partem is one principle of natural justice. A discussion between both parties would allow the party against whom any accusation is made is given a right of hearing immediately. When lawyers say that there is a problem, I believe them that there is truly a problem. Any problem brought to my attention, however small it is, will be looked into immediately.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
15. Someone mentioned to me that the year 2008 was the year the sleeping judiciary awoke. Credit must go to my predecessor, Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad.
Under his leadership, the judiciary had begun to regain its respect, not only its judicial independence but also the way it is managed. Unfortunately he held office for less than a year.

16. I was directed by Tun to look into the efficiency of the Court of Appeal. I was then the President of the Court of Appeal. Amongst others that I introduced was the reorganization of the filing room. It used to be run by 13 individual clerks having their own separate system. With the help of the Registry staff (working after office hours and weekends), and within a period of just over 3 months, we managed to reduce to only 2 clerks working with one single system. Proper storage of the files have since then been made obligatory to all Courts. Missing files will delay or even halt the progress of cases.

17. A file could go missing for so many reasons. It may have been genuinely misplaced or more importantly, it could have been misplaced “intentionally” by some one from within the Court for some ulterior reasons, which could have been motivated by an illegal gain. Knowing the exact location of a file reduces its retrieval time. This has now been done throughout the country, at every level of the Court system. The filing and retrieval system of files have now been further complemented and improved by our new E-Kehakiman, which I would mention later. I am now confident that there is now hardly any postponement due to inability to locate a file. Even if there are any, I have given instructions that any missing file must be immediately reconstructed.

18. Before the files in the filing room are rearranged in proper order, they are individually and physically counted. In business, it is called “stocktaking”. During these counting, it was discovered that, in many instances, the total number of physical files did not match with the numbers which were reported. We discovered in one instance that more than 50 percent of the files which were reported to be still pending were in fact dead files.

19. By removing these dead files we have saved storage spaces. Talking about storage spaces, appellants to the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court are now required to file only one copy of their records of appeal, the balance to be delivered to the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court once the date of hearing the appeal has been fixed. This practice will save two third of the storage spaces at both appellate courts filing rooms.

20. The files at Sabah and Sarawak Courts have been well kept. Thanks to CJSS.

21. I must also thank the President of the Court of Appeal for continuing to monitor the disposals and the backlogs of the cases at the Court of Appeal. I however do not envy his task because of the rapid disposal at the High Courts, the number of pending appeals in the Court of Appeal had grown to a worrying figure. The number of appeals heard and disposed of monthly almost have doubled since previously but the net balance is getting higher. This problem can only be solved by increasing the number of the Court of Appeal Judges, which is in the pipeline. In the meantime I know that judges at the Court of Appeal are working very hard to keep the figures of pending appeals low.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

22. Towards achieving expeditious delivery of justice, the Courts have within a relatively short period of one year, successfully, in my opinion, introduced a number of innovations. Apart from those mentioned earlier, these include the tracking system and the E-Kehakiman.

23. I am sure many if not all have heard about the major overhauls that we did in 2009 with the introduction of the “A” track and “T” track in the High Court at Kuala Lumpur and Shah Alam. It is now being extended to other major courts. I am told that the Bar have accepted this practice and expressed their support that they do not want to return to the old practice. The “A” and “T” track is a complete reversal from the old practice where a file is attached to a judge. Not only the old practice can cause individual judges to put aside more difficult files but it can be open to abuse. This tracking system, I am proud to say, is a Malaysian homegrown innovation. It continues to be developed and improved practically on a daily basis as we continuously gather more positive and negative information and comments from the ground.

24. I am proud to share with all of you what the ‘T’ and ‘A’ tracks in Kuala Lumpur Commercial Division have shown so far. In 2008, only 87 ‘T’ track cases i.e full trial with witnesses were disposed of. This disposal figure increased to 596 last year. This is a 585% increase! The ‘A’ track cases had also recorded an increase of 16% from 2008 to 2009. The number of outstanding cases in January 2009 was 6490 and it is reduced to only 3498 by the end of the year.

25. Credit must be given to my Chief Judge of Malaya and the Managing Judges. The Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak has also introduced this system in his Courts.

26. Related to tracking is the establishment of the New Commercial Court at Kuala Lumpur Courts to take care of commercial cases registered from 1st September 2009. Cases registered at this court will be fast tracked. According to the Managing Judge of the NCC, he expects cases registered at the NCC to be completed within nine months from the day they are registered. This target seems to be achievable because up to end of December 2009, (4 months after registration) out of 289 cases filed in September there are left only 112 cases. By June all should be disposed of, whether by way of interlocutory orders or final hearings. Similar system may be introduced at other courts. As the old commercial cases are disposed of, the judges will be moved to the New Commercial Courts.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

27. The other action being taken to speed up management of cases and hearings is the introduction of the IT system. The E-Kehakiman or Electronic Judiciary has been spoken about since many years ago. An attempt was made to introduce it earlier. For some reason it never took off the ground. I am grateful to the Government for providing the Judiciary with the system. The management system or CMS and Queue Management System (QMS) have been installed at the KL courts and will be extended to Courts in the major towns. I understand that the CRT which we now have is the most advanced available to any court in the world. The system records visually as well as orally the court proceedings. The system will be installed in 188 Courtrooms throughout Peninsular Malaysia, priority being given to the busier courtrooms. The courts in Sabah and Sarawak will be having their own system.

28. To take fullest advantage of the CRT, the Criminal Procedure Code has been amended to allow recording of evidence by use of mechanical system. Until this amendment, evidence had to be “taken down in legible handwriting”.

29. The Rules Committee has been working very hard to finalise a new set of rules. This new set had been drafted way before my time, but again for some reason had been kept in cold storage. We have had a few meetings lately and hopefully can be ready for circulation to the Bar in next few months. The target for publication and coming into force is mid this year. These rules will simplify the procedure and will be commonly applied to subordinate courts as well. Simply put, we will do away with the different modes of commencing a suit and different modes of interlocutory applications etc, etc. Hopefully it will also speed up disposals.

30. A proposal has also been made to the Government to amend the Subordinate Courts Act to increase jurisdictions of the Session Courts and the Magistrate Courts. The last increase of jurisdiction was done in 1994. This proposal is to keep up with inflation. The value of money has depreciated with prices increasing. A semi luxury car now costs over RM 250,000 and so do real estate properties prices. Disputes over issues of sale and purchase of such items would presently end up in the High Courts, when they may be dealt with at the Session Courts. Further, judges of the Sessions Courts, in particular are now sufficiently experienced to hear such cases. While previously Session Court judges get promoted at an earlier age, they are now only appointed as Judicial Commissioners after attaining 50 years old or over. I recognize that this step will only result in the increase of cases to the Subordinate Courts. But then because Subordinate Courts are more spread out throughout the countries access by the rakyat is easier. The number of Session Judges and Magistrates will of course have to be increased. As regards criminal jurisdictions, it is suggested that they remain.

31. While the Courts introduce the latest technology to make it efficient, the Attorney General’s Chambers as well as the Bar should perhaps also upgrade their facilities to make the system work like a well oiled clockwork. I am looking forward to a day when lawyers can file in their pleadings from their office, as is already the practice of our neighbouring country.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

32. The problem faced by the Courts in Peninsular Malaysia is completely different from that in Sabah and Sarawak. The total number of Courts and cases in those two States are equivalent to only a small part of the Courts in Kuala Lumpur. However, they face logistical problems due to their geographical size. They have video conferencing. They do not face as bad a backlog problem as faced in Peninsular Malaysia. This is because the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak has been closely monitoring the problems in the courts at Sabah and Sarawak. I know that he personally checks on the pending cases as well as pending judgments of his judges. Credit must go to CJSS for his efficient management. I understand the Sabah and Sarawak lawyers are also giving him their full support.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

33. It would be impossible for one man to administer all of the development of the Judiciary. Hence senior judges are appointed to assist and provide guidance in the management of the courts. The duty of these managing judges not only includes monitoring the progress of cases but also the management of the cases at the respective Courts. With good leadership, the lower rank will certainly follow suit. Tighten the conduct of the leaders and the rest will follow suit. A leader must lead. He is not just to follow.

34. While the leaders deserve praises for their innovation and leadership, these will merely remain a theory without it being put into practice by you judges and judicial officers. I have also not forgotten the other staff of the Judiciary (the Registrars, Deputy and Senior Assistant Registrars, Interpreters, and PTUs and also the administration staff) without whose support there will also be no success. To you all, I take off my hat and say thank you. Thank you very much.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

35. Postponement has always been the main culprit for the delay in the disposal of cases. Back when I was a Magistrate around 1970’s, the then Chief Judge of Malaya, Mr. Justice H.T. Ong came out with all sorts of ideas. Daily reports had to be made and even today daily reports are still made.

36. Much has been discussed about the way judges exercise their discretion in granting or refusing requests for postponements.

37. I would like to thank the Attorney General and his Deputy Public Prosecutors (DPPs) and Federal Counsels for supporting the Judiciary’s policy of strict granting of postponements.

38. To the judges and other judicial officers, in spite of the attacks on unfair refusal of postponements that have been leveled at us, we have achieved success that I am sure, you are proud of. There are disgruntled parties, I do not deny, but from the figures produced, the judiciary can hold its head high. I suspect there are not many cases where parties had unfair refusals for requests for postponements. For otherwise, there would have been a much bigger hue and cry against us, me in particular! I believe the general members of the Bar support this practice of strictness on postponements. The strictness will therefore continue.

39. The setting of KPI for judges, sessions court judges and magistrates is a necessary evil, if it is an evil, as has been made out by some quarters. Having KPI is nothing new. It has been used as a yardstick to determining not only the efficiency of the individual but the organization as a whole. Unfortunately, what was set as a guide came to be read as the ultimate and only objected to by a very small minority. However, I believe this has been corrected.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

40. The world is going global now. People are not only looking at what happens in their own country but to other parts of the world. Malaysia should not be left behind. Maybe it is about time that we discuss the possibility of opening our legal system to foreign counsels for us to learn from them. If Malaysia is to attract more investors, it must be able to provide good legal service comparable to that provided in the advanced countries to our investors. We must be prepared to learn from others.

41. To the judges, legal officers and the Bar, I say, let us pursue and persist to improve further to be amongst the best in the world.
You have shown your commitment and you have shown your determination! I know we will succeed.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
42. Lawyers are expected to provide service to their clients. In so doing, it would be to the advantage of their clients to solve the problem, they may have against their opposition at the earliest possible.

43. Other common law countries seem to have been successful in speeding up disposal of their cases with the introduction of mediation. Mediation was informally introduced in June last year in some of the Session Courts around the country. Most of the cases referred for mediation are runner matters except for only a small number of non-runner matters. The success rate at the Shah Alam Session Courts within seven months, from June to December last year, was 45% of the total case referred for mediation. In Kota Bharu, I understand, under one particular Session Judge the success rate was 80%. I would consider this as a good start! With friendly mediation, I believe disputing parties, particularly those involving pure financial issues, can after the case is mediated, continue their good relationship and friendship.

44. A successful mediation connotes amicable solution to their differences. They can hold their heads high, unlike parties to a court trial, more so when it is acrimonious. It saves time and money and it is also final, no appeals! Lawyers collect their fees early. Of course, where lawyers plan to drag on their case by throwing in all sorts of interlocutory applications and appealing against every decision, with fees chargeable at every step, it would be to their financial disadvantage to enter into mediation. That brings me to this story which my predecessor Tun Hamid told me. “A young lawyer newly called to the Bar became a partner to his father’s well established sole proprietor legal firm. One day, his father was not able to attend court and he was asked to MOB a case which had been dragging on for many years. On coming back from the court, he proudly announced to his father “You know father that case which had dragged on for the last twenty years, I managed to settle it finally.” His father screamed his head off and said ‘Why did you do that? You stupid fool! That was the case that had paid for your legal education and been keeping the family going all these years.’

Ladies and Gentlemen,

45. To the academicians, please continue your good work. Your publications of academic articles help judges and lawyers in our research. You should bring out new ideas that will contribute towards the development of the law.

46. I would also like to take this opportunity to suggest that law schools provide courses in management of courts and legal firms. Presently, people who are qualified in law (but not in management) handle the administration of courts. These people do not have any background knowledge of managing an organization. It is in fact unfair to place the responsibility of managing the Judiciary on him when all he has been trained in is the field of law. Private hospitals, for example are run by executives specially trained in hospital management.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

47. Opportunities for corruption are diminished, if not eradicated, when efficiency increases. If corruptions prevail in a society, people will follow their own whims and fancy. When this happens, they may choose to neglect their own duties and responsibilities which they have undertaken. They will then indulge in sinful deeds and actions. Sadly, these corrupt practices will affect the public as a whole. When there is a taker, there must be a giver. The question is, in matters related to the court, who is the one always offering or giving.

48. Related to corruption is abuse of power. The public will only have confidence in the Judiciary if they can be certain, for a fact, that no member of the Government, no member of Parliament or anyone, has any right or privilege to dictate and influence the decision of any judge.

49. Kepada para hakim yang saya hormati sekalian, Saya tinggal teguran saya kepada saudara saudari ke akhir ucapan ini. Bukan menunjukkan bahawa Yang Arif-Yang Arif kurang penting kepada saya. Macam kalimah Bahasa Inggeris, “Last but not least important”.

50. Ketahuilah saudara saudari para Hakim, bahawa kes yang tidak mempunyai sebarang keputusan atau penghakiman adalah satu kezaliman yang nyata. Ianya lebih tidak adil daripada membuat satu keputusan yang tidak tepat selepas menimbangkan semua fakta yang dibentangkan pada kita.

51. To the superior court judges, I believe, your remuneration today is comparable to those earned by most of your counterparts in other parts of the world. You should have nothing to complain now. For these increases that we all are receiving, I thank the Government. In return, what we have to do now is to deliver and for almost all of you I am very proud to say that you are already doing that. Many have even gone beyond your call of duty. Thank you.
But unfortunately, no organization is perfect. My judges and I give our commitment today that we will continue to improve our delivery system. We must and will continue to improve for the benefit of the rakyat, for whom we work!

52. Talking about appointment of judges, it is appropriate at this stage to say thank you to those from the Bar who have joined the Bench after giving up your successful legal profession, to render public service. So far those few recently elevated have been receiving commending remarks from the Bar.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

53. For this year 2010,
a) The Judiciary will continue to monitor closely the backlogs and to continuously reduce it at every level. To achieve this principle objective, requests for postponements will continue to be strictly enforced.

b) The E-Kehakiman will be extended to as many courts as the system permits.

c) The use of mediation and other forms of ADR will be encouraged as this has been successful in many countries.

d) Hopefully the new set of Combined Court Rules to apply to the High Court and the Subordinate Courts will come into force by the middle of the year and hopefully also this will simplify and expedite disposal of civil cases. As regards criminal cases I hope plea bargaining can be introduced soon, as well simplification of admission of evidence.

(e) The Chief Registrar has also successfully led negotiations for CIMB Bank to provide facilities for lawyers to pay their filing fees etc electronically, hence eliminating or substantially reducing the handling of cash by their staff and the courts. Details of this will be announced soon.

(f) In collaboration with Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat, the probation report has been reformatted. With the new standard format, I assume it would be easier to draw up and read it. Again, I hope preparation report would be faster, hence enabling unnecessary delay to pass sentences on juveniles. We are also looking into simplifying other court forms.

(g) The Annual Report for 2008/2009 is being prepared by a senior judge and her editorial board. This time the report will be differently formatted from the previous years.

(h) Also, training of judges will continue in one form or another towards improvement of the standards of the judiciary. These trainings will be done locally and where finance permits judges will continue to be sent to attend conferences overseas. Immediately, a mediation course has been planned for February and the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute (CJEI) is having a conference in Kuala Lumpur in March. I hope to send as many judges and judicial officers as I can to this conference. I thank the Governments of Great Britain, USA, Australia, Canada and the Judiciaries of Singapore and Hong Kong for providing or will be providing assistance, in one way or another for the training of our judiciary.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

54. The public is more conscious of their rights now. As has been so often said they demand speedy and expeditious delivery of justice. Contribute your ideas and we shall certainly consider it. At the end of the day, we want a system that will deliver justice to all concerned.

55. Now to a lighter subject on how judges should be dressed. We would like hear the views of the public, the Bar in particular, whether the judges and lawyers robes should be modernized and simplified and to do away with necessary ruffles particularly so in view of our weather, (and the global warming). After all mufflers are for the colder countries and bibs are for babies to wipe their mouths. The woolen stripe pants remind me of clowns that I used to watch at the circus during my childhood days.

56. Relating to court rooms, I hope, court rooms and court houses to come will be smaller, simpler so there will be unnecessary wastage of public funds in constructing humongous ones. Also, instead of having new buildings, at some places, we are looking into utilizing vacant unutilised spaces within existing court buildings to be converted into courtrooms and chambers. Court building should be people friendly with easier access. This perhaps come from my personal experience as a practicing lawyer of having to carry loads of bulky and heavy documents up several flites of steps, while on the other hand, judges, being assisted by their orderlies have the privilege of being delivered to private lifts in their chauffeur driven cars. They either do not know or forget what the lawyers and the public have to go through. To my ex colleagues, the lawyers, don't worry. I have not forgotten your welfare. Where possible facilities will be provided to make your life at the courts a bit easier.

Hadirin dan Hadirat sekalian,

57. Badan Kehakiman ingin mengambil kesempatan ini untuk menyampaikan ucapan terima kasih kepada YB Datuk Liew Vui Keong, yang mewakili Kerajaan, di atas segala sokongan dan pelbagai kemudahan yang diberikan kepada Badan Kehakiman,

• Kepada Jabatan Peguam Negara, (Tan Sri Abdul Ghani Patail dan pegawai-pegawai Tan Sri),

• Majlis Peguam, Persatuan Undang-Undang Sabah dan Persatuan Peguam-Peguam Sarawak (Encik Ragunath Kesavan, Dato’ John Sikayun, Encik Frank Tang)

• Dan kepada Jabatan-Jabatan Kerajaan yang lain, khususnya, (mengikut susunan kepentingan kepada Badan Kehakiman dan bukan kekananan), kepada Ketua Setiausaha Negara yang saya percaya telah dan akan selalu terus memberikan respon terhadap keperluan kami di Badan Kehakiman, terima kasih Tan Sri Mohd Sidek bin Haji Hassan,

• Kepada pihak Polis, terima kasih Tan Sri Ismail Omar ,Timbalan Ketua Polis Negara

• Kepada Bahagian Hal Ehwal Undang-Undang, Jabatan Perdana Menteri atau (BHEUU), terima kasih Dato’ Abdullah Sani Ab Hamid

• Kepada Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia, terima kasih Datuk Abu Kassim Mohamed, Ketua Pesuruhjaya SPRM

• Kepada Jabatan Kimia, Kementerian Kesihatan, Jabatan Imigresen, Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat, Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan serta jabatan-jabatan lain yang terlibat, terima kasih diucapkan

• Not forgetting, of course, Pemudah (whose persistency resulted in us setting up the NCC) thanks Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon.

• Thanks to the media for being very supportive and very fair in reporting for and against the Judiciary (the bloggers for identifying all the negative aspects (correctly or not) that enabled us to verify and rectify our weaknesses, and to all others who I may have inadvertently omitted.

58. In closing, I would like to remind all, that although the public expects perfection from the judges in their delivery of justice, this is not possible without total support and commitment from the others constituting the courts as well from different branches of the Government.

59. For our adversarial system to be successful, all three parties, the judge, the prosecutor and the defence must play their respective roles in order to deliver justice. It does not start in Court. It starts with the law enforcement agencies. The law enforcement agencies collect the evidence. The prosecutor sieves through it and decides on the charge as well as the evidence and manner to be adduced in Court. The Defence will do its part to show otherwise. The Court balances the evidence adduced by both parties and applying the law decides who is right and who is wrong. No one single party can deliver justice without the support of the other. All of us, the three branches, must work together to make the three legged stool stand firmly on the ground, for otherwise the stool will topple over.

So, let’s work together for the New Year, 2010. Happy New Year to all



Thank you.

Assalamualaikum.




ZAKI TUN AZMI
Chief Justice
Malaysia

16th January 2010
 
 
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Teks Ucapan

Ucapan Ketua Hakim Negara
"Opening of the Legal Year 2010"
Oleh
Ketua Hakim Negara
YAA Tun Dato’ Seri Zaki Bin Tun Azmi
 
Bismillahirrahmanirahim

Assalamualaikum,

Selamat Pagi and a very good morning to all.

Salutations:
Honorable Judges, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

‘Welcome to the PICC, this eagle like structure, which the Chief Registrar and her team had managed to successfully or otherwise convert into a pseudo court room’.
Bagi pihak Badan Kehakiman, saya dengan gembiranya mengucapkan selamat datang ke Pembukaan Tahun Perundangan Malaysia buat pertama kali setelah sekian lama.

1. Ketika perasmian Majlis Pembukaan Tahun Perundangan ini di Kota Kinabalu sekitar Januari tahun lepas, saya ada menyatakan dalam ucapan saya bahawa majlis seperti ini perlu dikembalikan dan diadakan di peringkat Kebangsaan. Selepas satu tahun, saya amat berbangga untuk berdiri di sini dan menyatakan bahawa INILAH masanya yang dinanti-nantikan.

2. Majlis sebegini biasanya dilakukan di dalam Mahkamah terbuka, namun oleh kerana kita tidak mempunyai ruang Mahkamah yang besar, majlis ini perlu diadakan di sini bagi menempatkan semua tetamu yang hadir.

3. Saya difahamkan bahawa dahulu, majlis Pembukaan Tahun Perundangan pernah diadakan tetapi saya tidak dapat mencari rekodnya. Majlis seperti ini telah diadakan di Singapura dan di Sabah dan Sarawak sekian lama sehingga sekarang. Saya amat berharap agar Majlis ini akan menjadi tradisi yang dikekalkan. Saya amat menghargai sokongan anda semua yang dapat dinilai daripada kehadiran anda pada pagi ini.

4. We are particularly honoured by the presence of The Right Honorable Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong of Singapore, the Right Honorable Chief Justice Dato’ Seri Paduka Awang Haji Kifrawi bin Dato’ Paduka Haji Kifli of Brunei, the Right Honorable Chief Justice Robert J. Torres of Guam and Mr. Michael Hwang, President of Singapore Law Society.

5. We are also happy that lawyers from all over Malaysia, including Sabah and Sarawak are here today to give their support.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

6. I am made to understand from the internet that historically, the opening of the legal year ceremony in the UK was closely related to religion. It dated back to the Middle Ages when judges prayed for guidance at the start of a legal term. In London, judges, whose courts were held in Westminster Hall, used to walk for two miles to take part in the service. After the ceremony the Lord Chancellor would offer the judges some food to break their fast before they took their seats in courts, hence the term ‘breakfast’. In our weather, we will be sweating in our robes if we were to do the same. At present, the ceremony in the UK is still similar albeit that the judges now travel by car, as we had just done after a photography session at the Palace of Justice. For us, this was not to represent the march but just a faster means of transportation from the Palace of Justice to here.

7. Today the main reason for having our Opening Legal Year is to bring together members of the legal fraternity and those connected with it. Lawyers in the eyes of the lay person are always acting in opposition when they appear in court. The public inadvertently perceive that the Bar views the AG Chambers and the Judiciary as obstructions to their goal whilst the AG Chambers sees the Bar as a thorn in its flesh. Little do the public know that in our honourable profession, lawyers standing in opposition to each other before a judge do not treat their opposition as enemies. Rather, they are just fulfilling their duties without emotional involvement. Although they argue against each other, they usually feel proud for having the opportunity to contribute towards justice. They are all, in fact, part of the court.

8. But today, we are not here to argue, criticize, submit or object against each other. At this gathering we are all here as a show of unity! Lawyers had been the fighters for freedom. They fight for the liberty of the innocent and to punish the wrongdoers. Lawyers make law by the cases they bring to Court. Lawyers argue what the law is. Judges decide. Each decision is a step towards development of the law. We act together towards ensuring that justice is delivered to the people. That is our duty. We do what we do best for a common goal and our common goal is justice. To quote a judge:

“I am unable to conceive… that in a democracy, it can ever be unwise to acquaint the public with the truth about the workings of any branch of government. It is wholly undemocratic to treat the public as children who are unable to accept the inescapable shortcomings of man-made institutions… The best way to bring about the elimination of those shortcomings of our judicial system which are capable of being eliminated is to have all our citizens informed as to how that system now functions. It is a mistake, therefore, to try to establish and maintain, through ignorance, public esteem for our courts.” (Judge Jerome Frank (Courts on Trial)
In modern terminology that is “Transparency”.

9. On this subject of working together, there was a proposal to set up a Law Academy a few years ago. It did not come through. I thought I would mention it again today hoping perhaps it could be relooked into as a healthy way to allow the Bench and the Bar to maintain a healthy intellectual and social relationship.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

10. In February last year the Parliament passed the Judicial Appointment Commission Act. It makes life for the CJ easier now as he has others to discuss before putting up any appointment of a superior court judge. As a matter of practice the views of the JAC are also sought regarding elevation of JCs. I am also happy to reaffirm the practice of getting the views of the Attorney General and the President of the respective Bar regarding any candidate. I take this opportunity now to say, that in this respect of consultation and in every other aspect, I believe the relationship between the Judiciary and the AG Chambers and the Bar Council and Law Associations of Sabah and Sarawak cannot be better than it is now! I am extremely happy!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

11. Our Courts had for so long as I can remember have been faced with backlogs and delays of disposal of cases. This has caused injustice to a lot of innocent parties. As has been widely publicized, throughout 2009, the Judiciary has taken active and bold steps in overcoming these delays and expediting the disposal of cases. That was and is still our main priority. Over and over again, the public has been crying for speedy justice. The Judiciary’s top management realizes that we can never change without the support from the AG Chambers, the Bar and all who have anything to do with the Courts.

12. During last year, as the relevant parties are quite well aware, numerous meetings and discussions have been held between the Bench, the Bar as well as the Attorney General’s Chambers. My door is practically open for the Attorney General or his officers as well as the President of the Bar Council, Law Associations or any State Committee to discuss with me the problems that their members are facing.

13. I repeat, a healthy relationship has been fostered and I am confident it will continue.

14. A discussion is an easier way to solve a problem than by way of an EGM in a big hall. Some view the recent EGM by the Bar Council as an affront against the Judiciary. I however view that meeting as being an avenue where disgruntled members can air their views and the Council be given an opportunity to explain. Whatever could not be explained could then be brought to my attention. Audi Alterem Partem is one principle of natural justice. A discussion between both parties would allow the party against whom any accusation is made is given a right of hearing immediately. When lawyers say that there is a problem, I believe them that there is truly a problem. Any problem brought to my attention, however small it is, will be looked into immediately.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
15. Someone mentioned to me that the year 2008 was the year the sleeping judiciary awoke. Credit must go to my predecessor, Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad.
Under his leadership, the judiciary had begun to regain its respect, not only its judicial independence but also the way it is managed. Unfortunately he held office for less than a year.

16. I was directed by Tun to look into the efficiency of the Court of Appeal. I was then the President of the Court of Appeal. Amongst others that I introduced was the reorganization of the filing room. It used to be run by 13 individual clerks having their own separate system. With the help of the Registry staff (working after office hours and weekends), and within a period of just over 3 months, we managed to reduce to only 2 clerks working with one single system. Proper storage of the files have since then been made obligatory to all Courts. Missing files will delay or even halt the progress of cases.

17. A file could go missing for so many reasons. It may have been genuinely misplaced or more importantly, it could have been misplaced “intentionally” by some one from within the Court for some ulterior reasons, which could have been motivated by an illegal gain. Knowing the exact location of a file reduces its retrieval time. This has now been done throughout the country, at every level of the Court system. The filing and retrieval system of files have now been further complemented and improved by our new E-Kehakiman, which I would mention later. I am now confident that there is now hardly any postponement due to inability to locate a file. Even if there are any, I have given instructions that any missing file must be immediately reconstructed.

18. Before the files in the filing room are rearranged in proper order, they are individually and physically counted. In business, it is called “stocktaking”. During these counting, it was discovered that, in many instances, the total number of physical files did not match with the numbers which were reported. We discovered in one instance that more than 50 percent of the files which were reported to be still pending were in fact dead files.

19. By removing these dead files we have saved storage spaces. Talking about storage spaces, appellants to the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court are now required to file only one copy of their records of appeal, the balance to be delivered to the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court once the date of hearing the appeal has been fixed. This practice will save two third of the storage spaces at both appellate courts filing rooms.

20. The files at Sabah and Sarawak Courts have been well kept. Thanks to CJSS.

21. I must also thank the President of the Court of Appeal for continuing to monitor the disposals and the backlogs of the cases at the Court of Appeal. I however do not envy his task because of the rapid disposal at the High Courts, the number of pending appeals in the Court of Appeal had grown to a worrying figure. The number of appeals heard and disposed of monthly almost have doubled since previously but the net balance is getting higher. This problem can only be solved by increasing the number of the Court of Appeal Judges, which is in the pipeline. In the meantime I know that judges at the Court of Appeal are working very hard to keep the figures of pending appeals low.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

22. Towards achieving expeditious delivery of justice, the Courts have within a relatively short period of one year, successfully, in my opinion, introduced a number of innovations. Apart from those mentioned earlier, these include the tracking system and the E-Kehakiman.

23. I am sure many if not all have heard about the major overhauls that we did in 2009 with the introduction of the “A” track and “T” track in the High Court at Kuala Lumpur and Shah Alam. It is now being extended to other major courts. I am told that the Bar have accepted this practice and expressed their support that they do not want to return to the old practice. The “A” and “T” track is a complete reversal from the old practice where a file is attached to a judge. Not only the old practice can cause individual judges to put aside more difficult files but it can be open to abuse. This tracking system, I am proud to say, is a Malaysian homegrown innovation. It continues to be developed and improved practically on a daily basis as we continuously gather more positive and negative information and comments from the ground.

24. I am proud to share with all of you what the ‘T’ and ‘A’ tracks in Kuala Lumpur Commercial Division have shown so far. In 2008, only 87 ‘T’ track cases i.e full trial with witnesses were disposed of. This disposal figure increased to 596 last year. This is a 585% increase! The ‘A’ track cases had also recorded an increase of 16% from 2008 to 2009. The number of outstanding cases in January 2009 was 6490 and it is reduced to only 3498 by the end of the year.

25. Credit must be given to my Chief Judge of Malaya and the Managing Judges. The Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak has also introduced this system in his Courts.

26. Related to tracking is the establishment of the New Commercial Court at Kuala Lumpur Courts to take care of commercial cases registered from 1st September 2009. Cases registered at this court will be fast tracked. According to the Managing Judge of the NCC, he expects cases registered at the NCC to be completed within nine months from the day they are registered. This target seems to be achievable because up to end of December 2009, (4 months after registration) out of 289 cases filed in September there are left only 112 cases. By June all should be disposed of, whether by way of interlocutory orders or final hearings. Similar system may be introduced at other courts. As the old commercial cases are disposed of, the judges will be moved to the New Commercial Courts.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

27. The other action being taken to speed up management of cases and hearings is the introduction of the IT system. The E-Kehakiman or Electronic Judiciary has been spoken about since many years ago. An attempt was made to introduce it earlier. For some reason it never took off the ground. I am grateful to the Government for providing the Judiciary with the system. The management system or CMS and Queue Management System (QMS) have been installed at the KL courts and will be extended to Courts in the major towns. I understand that the CRT which we now have is the most advanced available to any court in the world. The system records visually as well as orally the court proceedings. The system will be installed in 188 Courtrooms throughout Peninsular Malaysia, priority being given to the busier courtrooms. The courts in Sabah and Sarawak will be having their own system.

28. To take fullest advantage of the CRT, the Criminal Procedure Code has been amended to allow recording of evidence by use of mechanical system. Until this amendment, evidence had to be “taken down in legible handwriting”.

29. The Rules Committee has been working very hard to finalise a new set of rules. This new set had been drafted way before my time, but again for some reason had been kept in cold storage. We have had a few meetings lately and hopefully can be ready for circulation to the Bar in next few months. The target for publication and coming into force is mid this year. These rules will simplify the procedure and will be commonly applied to subordinate courts as well. Simply put, we will do away with the different modes of commencing a suit and different modes of interlocutory applications etc, etc. Hopefully it will also speed up disposals.

30. A proposal has also been made to the Government to amend the Subordinate Courts Act to increase jurisdictions of the Session Courts and the Magistrate Courts. The last increase of jurisdiction was done in 1994. This proposal is to keep up with inflation. The value of money has depreciated with prices increasing. A semi luxury car now costs over RM 250,000 and so do real estate properties prices. Disputes over issues of sale and purchase of such items would presently end up in the High Courts, when they may be dealt with at the Session Courts. Further, judges of the Sessions Courts, in particular are now sufficiently experienced to hear such cases. While previously Session Court judges get promoted at an earlier age, they are now only appointed as Judicial Commissioners after attaining 50 years old or over. I recognize that this step will only result in the increase of cases to the Subordinate Courts. But then because Subordinate Courts are more spread out throughout the countries access by the rakyat is easier. The number of Session Judges and Magistrates will of course have to be increased. As regards criminal jurisdictions, it is suggested that they remain.

31. While the Courts introduce the latest technology to make it efficient, the Attorney General’s Chambers as well as the Bar should perhaps also upgrade their facilities to make the system work like a well oiled clockwork. I am looking forward to a day when lawyers can file in their pleadings from their office, as is already the practice of our neighbouring country.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

32. The problem faced by the Courts in Peninsular Malaysia is completely different from that in Sabah and Sarawak. The total number of Courts and cases in those two States are equivalent to only a small part of the Courts in Kuala Lumpur. However, they face logistical problems due to their geographical size. They have video conferencing. They do not face as bad a backlog problem as faced in Peninsular Malaysia. This is because the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak has been closely monitoring the problems in the courts at Sabah and Sarawak. I know that he personally checks on the pending cases as well as pending judgments of his judges. Credit must go to CJSS for his efficient management. I understand the Sabah and Sarawak lawyers are also giving him their full support.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

33. It would be impossible for one man to administer all of the development of the Judiciary. Hence senior judges are appointed to assist and provide guidance in the management of the courts. The duty of these managing judges not only includes monitoring the progress of cases but also the management of the cases at the respective Courts. With good leadership, the lower rank will certainly follow suit. Tighten the conduct of the leaders and the rest will follow suit. A leader must lead. He is not just to follow.

34. While the leaders deserve praises for their innovation and leadership, these will merely remain a theory without it being put into practice by you judges and judicial officers. I have also not forgotten the other staff of the Judiciary (the Registrars, Deputy and Senior Assistant Registrars, Interpreters, and PTUs and also the administration staff) without whose support there will also be no success. To you all, I take off my hat and say thank you. Thank you very much.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

35. Postponement has always been the main culprit for the delay in the disposal of cases. Back when I was a Magistrate around 1970’s, the then Chief Judge of Malaya, Mr. Justice H.T. Ong came out with all sorts of ideas. Daily reports had to be made and even today daily reports are still made.

36. Much has been discussed about the way judges exercise their discretion in granting or refusing requests for postponements.

37. I would like to thank the Attorney General and his Deputy Public Prosecutors (DPPs) and Federal Counsels for supporting the Judiciary’s policy of strict granting of postponements.

38. To the judges and other judicial officers, in spite of the attacks on unfair refusal of postponements that have been leveled at us, we have achieved success that I am sure, you are proud of. There are disgruntled parties, I do not deny, but from the figures produced, the judiciary can hold its head high. I suspect there are not many cases where parties had unfair refusals for requests for postponements. For otherwise, there would have been a much bigger hue and cry against us, me in particular! I believe the general members of the Bar support this practice of strictness on postponements. The strictness will therefore continue.

39. The setting of KPI for judges, sessions court judges and magistrates is a necessary evil, if it is an evil, as has been made out by some quarters. Having KPI is nothing new. It has been used as a yardstick to determining not only the efficiency of the individual but the organization as a whole. Unfortunately, what was set as a guide came to be read as the ultimate and only objected to by a very small minority. However, I believe this has been corrected.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

40. The world is going global now. People are not only looking at what happens in their own country but to other parts of the world. Malaysia should not be left behind. Maybe it is about time that we discuss the possibility of opening our legal system to foreign counsels for us to learn from them. If Malaysia is to attract more investors, it must be able to provide good legal service comparable to that provided in the advanced countries to our investors. We must be prepared to learn from others.

41. To the judges, legal officers and the Bar, I say, let us pursue and persist to improve further to be amongst the best in the world.
You have shown your commitment and you have shown your determination! I know we will succeed.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
42. Lawyers are expected to provide service to their clients. In so doing, it would be to the advantage of their clients to solve the problem, they may have against their opposition at the earliest possible.

43. Other common law countries seem to have been successful in speeding up disposal of their cases with the introduction of mediation. Mediation was informally introduced in June last year in some of the Session Courts around the country. Most of the cases referred for mediation are runner matters except for only a small number of non-runner matters. The success rate at the Shah Alam Session Courts within seven months, from June to December last year, was 45% of the total case referred for mediation. In Kota Bharu, I understand, under one particular Session Judge the success rate was 80%. I would consider this as a good start! With friendly mediation, I believe disputing parties, particularly those involving pure financial issues, can after the case is mediated, continue their good relationship and friendship.

44. A successful mediation connotes amicable solution to their differences. They can hold their heads high, unlike parties to a court trial, more so when it is acrimonious. It saves time and money and it is also final, no appeals! Lawyers collect their fees early. Of course, where lawyers plan to drag on their case by throwing in all sorts of interlocutory applications and appealing against every decision, with fees chargeable at every step, it would be to their financial disadvantage to enter into mediation. That brings me to this story which my predecessor Tun Hamid told me. “A young lawyer newly called to the Bar became a partner to his father’s well established sole proprietor legal firm. One day, his father was not able to attend court and he was asked to MOB a case which had been dragging on for many years. On coming back from the court, he proudly announced to his father “You know father that case which had dragged on for the last twenty years, I managed to settle it finally.” His father screamed his head off and said ‘Why did you do that? You stupid fool! That was the case that had paid for your legal education and been keeping the family going all these years.’

Ladies and Gentlemen,

45. To the academicians, please continue your good work. Your publications of academic articles help judges and lawyers in our research. You should bring out new ideas that will contribute towards the development of the law.

46. I would also like to take this opportunity to suggest that law schools provide courses in management of courts and legal firms. Presently, people who are qualified in law (but not in management) handle the administration of courts. These people do not have any background knowledge of managing an organization. It is in fact unfair to place the responsibility of managing the Judiciary on him when all he has been trained in is the field of law. Private hospitals, for example are run by executives specially trained in hospital management.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

47. Opportunities for corruption are diminished, if not eradicated, when efficiency increases. If corruptions prevail in a society, people will follow their own whims and fancy. When this happens, they may choose to neglect their own duties and responsibilities which they have undertaken. They will then indulge in sinful deeds and actions. Sadly, these corrupt practices will affect the public as a whole. When there is a taker, there must be a giver. The question is, in matters related to the court, who is the one always offering or giving.

48. Related to corruption is abuse of power. The public will only have confidence in the Judiciary if they can be certain, for a fact, that no member of the Government, no member of Parliament or anyone, has any right or privilege to dictate and influence the decision of any judge.

49. Kepada para hakim yang saya hormati sekalian, Saya tinggal teguran saya kepada saudara saudari ke akhir ucapan ini. Bukan menunjukkan bahawa Yang Arif-Yang Arif kurang penting kepada saya. Macam kalimah Bahasa Inggeris, “Last but not least important”.

50. Ketahuilah saudara saudari para Hakim, bahawa kes yang tidak mempunyai sebarang keputusan atau penghakiman adalah satu kezaliman yang nyata. Ianya lebih tidak adil daripada membuat satu keputusan yang tidak tepat selepas menimbangkan semua fakta yang dibentangkan pada kita.

51. To the superior court judges, I believe, your remuneration today is comparable to those earned by most of your counterparts in other parts of the world. You should have nothing to complain now. For these increases that we all are receiving, I thank the Government. In return, what we have to do now is to deliver and for almost all of you I am very proud to say that you are already doing that. Many have even gone beyond your call of duty. Thank you.
But unfortunately, no organization is perfect. My judges and I give our commitment today that we will continue to improve our delivery system. We must and will continue to improve for the benefit of the rakyat, for whom we work!

52. Talking about appointment of judges, it is appropriate at this stage to say thank you to those from the Bar who have joined the Bench after giving up your successful legal profession, to render public service. So far those few recently elevated have been receiving commending remarks from the Bar.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

53. For this year 2010,
a) The Judiciary will continue to monitor closely the backlogs and to continuously reduce it at every level. To achieve this principle objective, requests for postponements will continue to be strictly enforced.

b) The E-Kehakiman will be extended to as many courts as the system permits.

c) The use of mediation and other forms of ADR will be encouraged as this has been successful in many countries.

d) Hopefully the new set of Combined Court Rules to apply to the High Court and the Subordinate Courts will come into force by the middle of the year and hopefully also this will simplify and expedite disposal of civil cases. As regards criminal cases I hope plea bargaining can be introduced soon, as well simplification of admission of evidence.

(e) The Chief Registrar has also successfully led negotiations for CIMB Bank to provide facilities for lawyers to pay their filing fees etc electronically, hence eliminating or substantially reducing the handling of cash by their staff and the courts. Details of this will be announced soon.

(f) In collaboration with Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat, the probation report has been reformatted. With the new standard format, I assume it would be easier to draw up and read it. Again, I hope preparation report would be faster, hence enabling unnecessary delay to pass sentences on juveniles. We are also looking into simplifying other court forms.

(g) The Annual Report for 2008/2009 is being prepared by a senior judge and her editorial board. This time the report will be differently formatted from the previous years.

(h) Also, training of judges will continue in one form or another towards improvement of the standards of the judiciary. These trainings will be done locally and where finance permits judges will continue to be sent to attend conferences overseas. Immediately, a mediation course has been planned for February and the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute (CJEI) is having a conference in Kuala Lumpur in March. I hope to send as many judges and judicial officers as I can to this conference. I thank the Governments of Great Britain, USA, Australia, Canada and the Judiciaries of Singapore and Hong Kong for providing or will be providing assistance, in one way or another for the training of our judiciary.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

54. The public is more conscious of their rights now. As has been so often said they demand speedy and expeditious delivery of justice. Contribute your ideas and we shall certainly consider it. At the end of the day, we want a system that will deliver justice to all concerned.

55. Now to a lighter subject on how judges should be dressed. We would like hear the views of the public, the Bar in particular, whether the judges and lawyers robes should be modernized and simplified and to do away with necessary ruffles particularly so in view of our weather, (and the global warming). After all mufflers are for the colder countries and bibs are for babies to wipe their mouths. The woolen stripe pants remind me of clowns that I used to watch at the circus during my childhood days.

56. Relating to court rooms, I hope, court rooms and court houses to come will be smaller, simpler so there will be unnecessary wastage of public funds in constructing humongous ones. Also, instead of having new buildings, at some places, we are looking into utilizing vacant unutilised spaces within existing court buildings to be converted into courtrooms and chambers. Court building should be people friendly with easier access. This perhaps come from my personal experience as a practicing lawyer of having to carry loads of bulky and heavy documents up several flites of steps, while on the other hand, judges, being assisted by their orderlies have the privilege of being delivered to private lifts in their chauffeur driven cars. They either do not know or forget what the lawyers and the public have to go through. To my ex colleagues, the lawyers, don't worry. I have not forgotten your welfare. Where possible facilities will be provided to make your life at the courts a bit easier.

Hadirin dan Hadirat sekalian,

57. Badan Kehakiman ingin mengambil kesempatan ini untuk menyampaikan ucapan terima kasih kepada YB Datuk Liew Vui Keong, yang mewakili Kerajaan, di atas segala sokongan dan pelbagai kemudahan yang diberikan kepada Badan Kehakiman,

• Kepada Jabatan Peguam Negara, (Tan Sri Abdul Ghani Patail dan pegawai-pegawai Tan Sri),

• Majlis Peguam, Persatuan Undang-Undang Sabah dan Persatuan Peguam-Peguam Sarawak (Encik Ragunath Kesavan, Dato’ John Sikayun, Encik Frank Tang)

• Dan kepada Jabatan-Jabatan Kerajaan yang lain, khususnya, (mengikut susunan kepentingan kepada Badan Kehakiman dan bukan kekananan), kepada Ketua Setiausaha Negara yang saya percaya telah dan akan selalu terus memberikan respon terhadap keperluan kami di Badan Kehakiman, terima kasih Tan Sri Mohd Sidek bin Haji Hassan,

• Kepada pihak Polis, terima kasih Tan Sri Ismail Omar ,Timbalan Ketua Polis Negara

• Kepada Bahagian Hal Ehwal Undang-Undang, Jabatan Perdana Menteri atau (BHEUU), terima kasih Dato’ Abdullah Sani Ab Hamid

• Kepada Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia, terima kasih Datuk Abu Kassim Mohamed, Ketua Pesuruhjaya SPRM

• Kepada Jabatan Kimia, Kementerian Kesihatan, Jabatan Imigresen, Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat, Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan serta jabatan-jabatan lain yang terlibat, terima kasih diucapkan

• Not forgetting, of course, Pemudah (whose persistency resulted in us setting up the NCC) thanks Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon.

• Thanks to the media for being very supportive and very fair in reporting for and against the Judiciary (the bloggers for identifying all the negative aspects (correctly or not) that enabled us to verify and rectify our weaknesses, and to all others who I may have inadvertently omitted.

58. In closing, I would like to remind all, that although the public expects perfection from the judges in their delivery of justice, this is not possible without total support and commitment from the others constituting the courts as well from different branches of the Government.

59. For our adversarial system to be successful, all three parties, the judge, the prosecutor and the defence must play their respective roles in order to deliver justice. It does not start in Court. It starts with the law enforcement agencies. The law enforcement agencies collect the evidence. The prosecutor sieves through it and decides on the charge as well as the evidence and manner to be adduced in Court. The Defence will do its part to show otherwise. The Court balances the evidence adduced by both parties and applying the law decides who is right and who is wrong. No one single party can deliver justice without the support of the other. All of us, the three branches, must work together to make the three legged stool stand firmly on the ground, for otherwise the stool will topple over.

So, let’s work together for the New Year, 2010. Happy New Year to all



Thank you.

Assalamualaikum.




ZAKI TUN AZMI
Chief Justice
Malaysia

16th January 2010
 
 
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