KUALA LUMPUR: An ex-judge has called for the establishment of an independent selection committee to appoint members to the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC).
Datuk Seri Mohd Hishamudin Yunus said apart from three serving judges, members of the JAC should be chosen by an independent selection committee.
The JAC should be expanded from nine members to 15, or even more, to ensure a diverse representation of interests, the retired Court of Appeal judge said.
"There should be a substantial number of lay members who are appointed by the selection committee," FMT quoted him as saying.
Hishamudin further said the chairman of the JAC should preferably be a layperson.
He said the selection committee should be open to anyone who is interested in joining the commission.
He was commenting on a suggestion by the Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negri Sembilan, Tuanku Muhriz Tuanku Munawir, who said the prime minister should not be allowed to appoint JAC members.
Chairing the 260th meeting of the Conference of Rulers at Istana Negara yesterday, Tuanku Muhriz said there were weaknesses in the process of appointing judges that could be resolved.
To ensure the independence of the JAC, he proposed not allowing the prime minister to make five appointments.
Hishamudin, who is also a former JAC member, said he fully supported Tuanku Muhriz's proposal.
To appoint and promote judges to the superior courts, the JAC should be made up of both legal and non-legally trained members, he added.
Those with law qualifications who could be considered for the JAC were serving judges, former judges, former attorneys-general, lawyers and legal academics.
Those with no legal expertise should be represented by a diverse group of people, such as consumer and trade unions, as well as human rights and corporate figures.
At present, the prime minister is empowered to appoint a sitting Federal Court judge and four eminent persons to the JAC.
The JAC comprises nine members – four top judicial administrators led by the chief justice, as well as a senior Federal Court judge and four other eminent persons, who are appointed by the prime minister.
The chief justice, the Court of Appeal president and the two chief judges (High Court of Malaya, and Sabah and Sarawak) will automatically feature in the JAC by virtue of holding administrative posts.