Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Organisers sad over poor judge turnout

New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR: Many judges were noticeably missing at the 14th edition of the Malaysian law conference opened by the Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah.

At past conferences, held once in two years, there was always good representation of judges, including those from outside the Klang Valley, at the opening ceremony.

At yesterday’s opening, only about 15 judges were present.

Among them were Federal Court judges Tan Sri Zaki Azmi and Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohamad, who is also Court of Appeal president.

There were also six Court of Appeal judges while the rest were judicial officers stationed at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur.

Conspicuously absent were Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim and Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum.

There are 12 judges in the Federal Court, 22 in the Court of Appeal and about 50 at the High Courts in the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak.

A High Court judge serving outside the Klang Valley was slotted to speak yesterday, but told the organisers last Wednesday he was unable to attend.

The Bar Council, which is the organiser, had also invited 20 judicial officers to participate in the three-day conference held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan said an invitation was sent to Ahmad Fairuz quite some time back but there was no reply.

Conference organising committee chairman Roger Tan, however, admitted there was no follow-up to find out whether the top judge would be attending.

Ahmad Fairuz will retire on Thursday, the day he turns 66 which is the mandatory age for judges to leave office.

Tan said invitations were also sent to all judges, including those serving in Sabah and Sarawak.

He said the government had approved a grant to partly finance the meeting attended by about 600 foreign and local participants.

He said the organisers had extended invitations two weeks ago to 20 participants each from the judiciary and the Attorney-General’s Chambers, 10 from the Industrial Court and 15 from the police.

“Sadly, we did not get the expected response from the judiciary,” Tan said, adding that a letter from the Chief Judge of Malaya’s office on Thursday informed the organising committee that they were unable to send judges to the conference “due to unforeseen circumstances".

Chief Judge of Malaya Datuk Alauddin Mohd Sheriff is on a month’s leave and is expected to return from abroad next month.

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