Putrajaya should propose raising judges’ retirement age, says ex-judge

Putrajaya should propose raising judges’ retirement age, says ex-judge

PUTRAJAYA: The government should initiate any proposal to raise the retirement age of judges if it is serious about keeping up with trends across the Commonwealth and in neighbouring countries, a retired judge said.

He said the legal affairs department in the Prime Minister’s Office should draw up a paper and obtain feedback from all stakeholders – the three Bars, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the judiciary and the treasury.

“Discussions about raising the retirement age have been ongoing but nothing concrete has come of them so far,” said the judge, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

He was commenting after Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh suggested in a Facebook posting last week that the retirement age of judges be upped to at least 75 years, adding that “this was one profession where one should not retire at 60 or 65.”

Yeoh, the youth and sports minister, made known her personal opinion after attending a dinner hosted by the Inns Of Court Malaysia to honour recently retired Federal Court judge Mary Lim.

The mandatory retirement age is 66, but judges, especially those in the Federal Court, may be given a six-month extension subject to the consent of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

The ex-judge said the current administrators in the judiciary may be reluctant to draw up the proposal themselves to avoid accusations of being its immediate beneficiaries.

On the eve of his retirement in March 2017, then chief justice Arifin Zakaria said Malaysian judges are capable of serving until age 70 as life expectancy has increased.

He said judges in neighbouring countries Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia retire at the age of between 70 and 75 years.

Former law minister Rais Yatim suggested extending the retirement age as far back as in 2016. At the time he said that although a judge may no longer have the adrenaline surges of a younger person, “it is the dexterity, wisdom and brainpower that we want”.

Rais, a lawyer, said many politicians, including prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, have led the nation aged 70 or older.

Lawyer Syed Iskandar Syed Mahzar also called on Putrajaya to kick-start the idea by putting forward a proposal in both the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara, as two-thirds’ support is required to amend the Federal Constitution.

“If the legal impediment is cleared, the government could decide the effective date the new retirement age will come into force,” he added.

Eight of the 15 Federal Court judges, including Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat are scheduled to retire between January and August next year.

Syed Iskandar said the financial implication to government coffers would be minimal as the exercise would only involve 150 judges of the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court.

“The government already has to allocate up to RM10 billion every year as it prepares to adjust the salaries of about 1.6 million civil servants,” he said.

However, lawyer Naran Singh said delayed retirements ought only to be available for judges serving in the Federal Court.

“Only the best legal brains who have written quality judgments should be retained to serve for a few more years,” he added.

The lawyer pointed out that under Article 122 (1A) of the Federal Constitution, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong can on the advice of the chief justice appoint retired judges as additional judges for a limited time or specific purpose.

  • https://www.msn.com/en-my/news/national/putrajaya-should-propose-raising-judges-retirement-age-says-ex-judge/ar-BB1nYLaa

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