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New Malaysia law minister promises judicial independence reform

[JURIST] Malaysia [JURIST news archive] will institute reforms to ensure an independent judiciary in an effort to restore trust in the nation's courts, newly appointed Malaysian Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim [firm profile] told the New Straits Times Sunday. Zaid said he will work to institutionalize the appointment and promotion of judges through an independent body, and to ensure greater transparency in the process. He also said that the government will consider issuing an apology to the victims of Malaysia's 1988 judicial crisis, including ousted former chief justice Salleh Abbas. Zaid's proposals were immediately backed by the Malaysian Bar Council [NST report].

The comments come after Malaysia's March 8 elections saw the ruling National Front (BN) [party website] lose its two-thirds parliamentary majority in the coalition's biggest defeat in its over 50 years of existence. The results were widely considered a major setback for Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi [official website; BBC profile], who recently shook up his cabinet [Bernama report] after rejecting calls to resign [BBC report]. Abdullah succeeded former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad [BBC profile], who set off the judicial crisis of the late 1980s after removing high court justices and introducing constitutional changes that curbed judicial power, ensuring government decisions would be free from judicial review. Reuters has more.

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