by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Friday, September 8, 1995:
Attorney-General Mohtar Abdullah should use his good offices and experience as former judge to initiate roundtable conference to resolve the
latest Bench-Bar fracas and to restore public confidence in the judiciary
The Prime Minister’s proposal that the Judiciary and the Bar Council should discuss their grievances to resolve their differences is most timely, as public confidence in the independence and integrity of the Judiciary must be cherished and upheld by all quarters concerned.
I am pleased that Mahathir’s attitude is akin to my proposal for a round-table conference of the Bar and Bench to resolve the latest Bench-Bar fracas and overcome the latest crisis of confidence in the independence and impartiality of the judiciary.
The Attorney-General Mohtar Abdullah should use his good offices and experience as former judge to initiate a round-table conference to resolve the latest Bench-Bar fracas and to restore public confidence in the judiciary.
This Bar-Bench roundtable conference should address issues which had contributed to a new crisis of confidence in the judiciary, such as:
• The unconstitutional ‘leapfrogging’ of a High Court judge to act as a Federal Court judge, like a Police Inspector ‘leap-frogging’ over the post of ASP to act as a DSP;
• The independence and impartiality of the judiciary in handling commercial disputes;
• Court decisions and sentences on contempt and their effect on the fundamental freedoms of free speech and expression; and
• The danger of the courts usurping the democratic right of voters to decide who should be their elected Member of Parliament.
I hope the Attorney-General will react positively to my suggestion that he mediate in the present Bench-Bar controversy to prevent a further deterioration in their relations or worsening in public confidence in the independence of the judiciary.