HRH Sultan Azlan Shah wisely noted, "The existence of the courts and judges in every ordered society proves nothing: it is their quality, their independence, and their powers which matter…"
The existence of an independent judiciary is therefore not something which can be taken for granted. Leaders who are elected by the people, as well as the people themselves, are duty-bound to take actions which strengthen the institution of the judiciary so that it can fulfil its role as a cornerstone of democracy - which is in the end to protect and preserve the rights of the people.
Since time immemorial, forces have tried to undermine Malaysia’s democratic institutions in order to achieve their selfish gains at the expense of the rakyat. Thus, we the people of Malaysia must remain vigilant in defending the institutions that protect our rights through the means granted to us through the Constitution from the power of our votes at the ballot box to exercising our constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech.
Sultan Azlan Shah goes on to say the rules that protect judicial independence “are designed to guarantee that they will be free from extraneous pressures and independent of all authority save that of the law. They are, therefore, essential to the preservation of the rule of law.”
I applaud the Malaysian Bar Council’s organization of today’s “Walk for Judicial Independence”. Today’s walk reaffirms their previous efforts in 2007, 2011 and 2014, showing that the legal fraternity remains cognizant of its critical role in upholding justice in the country.
This is a positive sign that our democracy is a constantly evolving work in progress, one strengthened by a citizenry that cares deeply about preserving the spirit of our democracy and the Federal Constitution.