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Malaysia PM proposes independent judicial nominating body

[JURIST] The movement in Malaysia to reform the judiciary took another step forward Thursday as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told a Bar Council assembly that the government will implement a Judicial Appointments Commission that will identify and nominate candidates for the bench, hopefully bringing transparency to the process. A similar proposal [JURIST report] was made by the newly appointed Malaysian Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim [firm profile] in March; the top judge in Malaysia, Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Malaysia Abdul Hamid Mohamad [official profile], has also announced support [JURIST report] for creating an independent judicial nominating commission. From Malaysia, the Star has local coverage.

In September 2007, approximately 2,000 lawyers and activists protested [press release; JURIST report] in Malaysia's capital, calling for an investigation into judicial corruption. The protest was sparked by the release of a 2001 video [Malaysian Bar Council report and streaming video] showing prominent Malaysian lawyer V.K. Lingam on the phone with someone who is believed to be former Malaysian Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim brokering Halim's appointment to become chief justice. In January, Lingam claimed he must have been intoxicated [JURIST report] in the video when he appeared to be arranging for the appointment of "friendly" senior judges during an official inquiry into the incident. An inquiry panel has yet to release its findings about the incident.

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