Malaysia has yet to appoint its Chief Justice

The federal government and the royalties of Malaysia continue to tangle after Chief Justice Richard Malanjum retired from his position.


Contextually, the federal court is comprised of the Chief of Justice, President of the Court of Appeal, Chief Judges of the High Court of Malaya, Sabah, and Sarawak. Therefore, the Chief Justice is not only the head of the federal court (highest court in Malaysia); whoever holds the position is also the leader of Malaysia’s whole judiciary system.


Apparently, all the judges must be appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, but with the counsel of the Prime Minister. And this is where the drama comes in.


Reports claimed the royalty are concerned over the proposed candidates, similar to when Tommy Thomas was appointed as Attorney-General, worrying that Malay-Muslim interests will be side-lined. The same issue was also sparked last year when Richard Malanjum was appointed as Chief Justice.


Additionally, it is suspected that opposing camps were formed within the state rulers when Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan abdicated the throne to Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah of Pahang. If this rumour were true, it will pose a challenge for the Chief Justice appointment.


In light of this conflict, does it severely affect the judiciary system?


The statistics below by Federal Court of Malaysia showcase the number of civil and criminal cases each court processed during the month of February in 2019.


Malaysia, Malaysia Indicator, Chief Justice, Richard Malanjum, royalty, YDPA, court, law


Malaysia, Malaysia Indicator, Chief Justice, Richard Malanjum, royalty, YDPA, court, law


The Chief Justice usually handles the federal court, and said court handles the least amount of cases compared to the rest of the courts. That is because it is a purely appellate court. Therefore, the court will only handle the appeals from High Court and Court of Appeal.


Richard Malanjum is a Sabahan and served 27 years in the Malaysia judiciary, 12 of which as the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, and 9 months as Chief Justice. He retired at the ripe age of 66 last year after serving a 6-month extension.