Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat has lambasted several parties for their attempt to tarnish the image of the judiciary because the verdicts were not in their favour.
Speaking at the Opening of the 2023 Legal Year at Putrajaya International Convention Centre yesterday (9 January), she revealed that she even received death threats when she chaired the panel of Federal Court judges that heard Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s appeal related to the SRC International Bhd case.
“When I took office, I swore to uphold the Rule of Law and to defend the independence of the judiciary — it is a promise that I take extremely seriously.”
“This important occasion serves as a reminder of the unwavering commitment of the courts to do right fearlessly. In the course of the legal system, cases with overtly political overtones will invariably find their way to the courts.”
“Judges who preside over such cases are frequently subjected to a great deal of intense scrutiny in the media especially social media,” she was quoted as saying by New Straits Times.
Meting out punishments independently, no more no less
She then explained that the criminal culpability would be assessed by the applicable legislation and the strength of the evidence presented in court.
“Convicted accused persons will be meted with punishments that their crimes deserve, no more and no less. This is our job as judges, and we are determined to discharge our duty without regard to any threats that are made to deter us from it,” she said.
She also said that judicial independence would be upheld as long as every judge remains committed to making a judgement without fear or favour.
Criticisms levelled at the judiciary should not cause discord between the department and members of the Bar, any political alliance, or the general public.
“The criticism should solidify and augment our determination to be even more united in upholding the independence of the Judiciary and the rule of law,” she added.
On 20 August 2022, the police arrested a 30-year-old man for posting threats against Tengku Maimun. The suspect made those remarks after the Supreme Court denied Najib’s request to postpone his appeal proceedings in the SRC International corruption case.