CJ's new practice order for remand proceedings timely
15 Sept 2021
The new practice direction by the Chief Justice on tighter proceedings during remand hearing is timely and much appreciated by the public. Some of the Magistrates in the past tend to be more "relaxed" when dealing with Police applications for remand. The Police usually get the remand order asked for without much difficulty. To be remanded is a serious action, for it entails deprivation of liberty. The legal system must ensure that this deprivation and denial can only be made for good reasons.
With the new direction, the magistrate has to be satisfied, amongst other things, that the suspect is able to appoint a lawyer if he wants to and that he must be in good health, as many have died in police custody.
The Police now need to confirm all the investigation papers are in order. In many countries, like Britain and New Zealand. The Police will not be allowed to keep the suspect on remand except in serious cases where the investigation may be hampered if the suspect is not under police custody.
In Malaysia, it's the opposite. Police can get remand orders quite easily, even if the investigation has not started. It looks like a remand order is being used to expedite and complete the investigation quickly. That's not what remand is meant to be. In our country, in a simple case of "insulting a Kedah politician", the Police was able to get a remand order for three days. This looks like harassment, not to facilitate proper police investigation.
Once again, thank you to our Chief Justice. She has done many good things to our judiciary. My admiration for Tengku Maimun prompted me to unashamedly write to her seeking an appointment to have a picture taken with her. It was to remember my 70th birthday. Unfortunately, I was not able to. It was perfectly understandable as I am quite a "controversial figure" and no judge wants to be photographed with me. But I will try again when I turn 71.
I always have a soft spot for good jurists. When I was a 21-year-old student, I was selected to represent the country to visit the Superior courts in the USA. At that time, I was a great admirer of William Douglas and Thurgood Marshall of the Supreme Court. I asked the organisers if I could take pictures with them, but it was not possible due to time constraints. My other regret is that I could not meet Lord Denning in person when I was in London. It's not meant to be.
I hope other judges will emulate the good habit and attitudes of the Chief justice. The judiciary is our last bastion for justice, fairness and all the safeguards we need to live in a decent society. It is the last place politicians can enter and wreak havoc. Take good care of the Palace of Justice.
DATUK ZAID IBRAHIM
Former Minister in the Prime Minister's Department for Legal Affairs and Judicial Reform
Former Dewan Rakyat Senator