The Sabah Justice of Peace Council said that appointment procedure of judges in the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) Bill is contrary to the Federal Constitution.
Council honorary secretary Datuk Lawrence Thien Shin Hing said the new procedure would be a departure from the present model and in direct conflict with Article 122B of the Constitution.

Under Article 122B, a person is appointed judge by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, acting on the advice of the prime minister after consulting the Conference of Rulers.

Before tendering his advice as to the appointment of a judge to the High Court, the prime minister shall consult the chief judge of Malaya or the chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak.

Thien noted that the JAC was not a constitutional amendment but an ordinary federal law compared with the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the federation.
He said in the past, there were several constitutional amendments passed by Parliament which had an impact on the constitutional positions of Sabah and Sarawak.

“In the context of Sabah and Sarawak, the proposed new mode runs contrary to the provision of Article 161E (2),” Thien said in a statement.

Article 161E (2) states that no amendment should be made to the Constitution without the consent of the Yang Dipertua Negeri of Sabah and Sarawak if the proposed amendment affects the rights of the states.

He said the mode in the appointment of judges for the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak was definitely affected with the setting up of the JAC.

“However, if it is allowed to proceed, it will mean that the proposed act is made to circumvent Article 161E (2).”

The question, he said, therefore was: “Should not the two states protect their constitutional safeguards?”

Thien said the government under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Bill had seen fit to make the Anti-Corruption Agency an independent body with its own commission and funding but made no similar provision in the JAC Bill. He hoped the government and members of parliament would give due respect to the issues raised when the bills were debated.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi tabled the bills in the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday. NST