Senior Malaysia judges resign in government clean-up

Senior Malaysia judges resign in government clean-up
2 min read
13 June, 2018
Malaysia's top two judges are the latest officials forced to leave office as the government continues its anti-corruption crackdown.
Former leader Najib Razak (pictured) stands accused of corruption and plundering state investment fund [Getty]

Malaysia's top two judges and its election chief are resigning, officials said on Wednesday, the latest senior public servants to leave their posts since the former government lost power.

Chief Justice Raus Sharif and appeals court president Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin are to step down on 31 July, while election chief Mohamad Hashim Abdullah will end his service on 1 July, government statements said.

The resignations are the latest in a series of senior officials forced out of office since Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's shock election victory last month, as he pledged to clean up a government beset by scandal and other abuses.

Former leader Najib Razak stands accused of corruption and plundering the state investment fund 1MDB.

Billions of dollars were allegedly stolen from the fund in a sophisticated fraud and used to buy everything from artworks to high-end real estate. Nearly $700 million has appeared in the ousted leader's personal bank accounts while billions more remain unaccounted for.

A judiciary statement said the judges' resignations were approved by the king on 8 June, as is required by law for such senior legal posts.

The judges had their terms extended last year despite exceeding the legal retirement age of 66 for their posts, in a move that sparked protests from Mahathir - then in opposition - and the legal community.

Critics say the independence of Malaysia's judiciary has been eroded steadily over the years.

Razak's ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional, suffered an election loss after Mahathir Mohamad, a former leader of the BN party came out of retirement and went head-to-head against his protege Najib Razak for the position of prime minister.

While many were expecting an easy victory for Razak's BN coalition - who had held onto power for six decades by controlling the media, government, police and electoral apparatus - Mahathir's surprise return caused what opposition dubbed a "Malay tsunami" and ousted BN from its tight grip on power.

The shock victory only highlighted the depth of disillusionment the country had with former leader Razak, who had previously denied any wrongdoing and said the money was a donation from the Saudi royal family.

Mahathir, who is 92 and serving as premier for the second time, is himself accused of starting the process of weakening the courts in the 1980s during his first period in office.