Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he wants to deal with three key issues — corruption, the judicial appointments commission and the special complaints commission — before leaving office in March as the nation will be in trouble if these issues are not addressed.

The prime minister said he hoped that all Members of Parliament would vote in support for the proposed Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Bill, which will be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat next Wednesday.

“I hope everyone will look beyond partisan lines and vote for what is best for the rakyat,” Abdullah said in an interview with theSun newspaper.

With the MACC in place, he said, it would change the way the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) works.

“Mind you, you will see a different kind of ACA, one with clout that responds and is answerable to the rakyat,” he said.

On judicial appointments, Abdullah said it was important to ensure that the people believe that the judiciary was a judiciary of integrity.

“If people have confidence in the judiciary then we won’t have to worry as we have someone who will look after our rights, someone who will defend us, someone we can appeal to,” he said.

In terms of procedure, he said, the proposed Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) would be free from interference from the Executive in the nomination of judicial candidates.

“The members of the commission will meet among themselves and decide on names based on secret ballot voting.

“In fact, we need to safeguard against interference or inappropriate pressure from all parties, not just the Executive,” he said.

On the appointment of Tan Sri Zaki Azmi as Chief Justice, Abdullah said Azmi was the best candidate for the job although he had several other candidates to consider.

Though Azmi was a former Umno legal advisor, he was known to be a man of integrity, he said.

“He doesn’t mess up his work and has done a good job, so if he is assigned to another job, I know he will do it right.”

“The critics will make noise if he rules against them but ‘he is a good judge’ if he rules in their favour,” he added.

On claims that there was resistance to the setting up of a complaints commission, Abdullah said he did not think that anyone was opposed to “reform”.

“Different groups want to be heard, to give their input into the design of the reform,” he said.

Abdullah said that although it would be a difficult process, it was worthwhile.