Proper judicial conduct must be upheld at all times

By Lim Chee Wee, President, Malaysian Bar

The Malaysian Bar is concerned that the lack of closure over the allegation that Court of Appeal Judge Dato’ Hj Abdul Malik Bin Hj Ishak had plagiarised a judgment written by a Singapore judge in 2000 has led to the matter being raised once more.

It is in public interest that the authorities disclose the past investigation and, if it was inadequate, look into the allegation anew.

Failure to acknowledge the source of work presented, if it is not one’s own, is tantamount to plagiarism, a misconduct that must not go unpunished if it is proven to have occurred.
Such behaviour would violate the Judges’ Code of Ethics 2009 (“Code”), where, for example, section 6(1) states that a judge “shall act at all times in a manner that promotes integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”

In addition, section 7(8) of the Code provides that a judge “shall not conduct himself in a manner which is not befitting of a judge or which brings or is calculated to bring disrepute to his office as a judge.”

Proper judicial conduct must be observed at all times, and judges must always maintain “high standards of personal and judicial conduct” and behave in a manner that preserves the dignity of their position.

Recent media articles that reported Judge Chan Jit Li as having hugged Karpal Singh – the plaintiff to whom she had just awarded over RM2 million in compensation – are also troubling.

In addition, the Judge reportedly remarked that she knew the plaintiff personally, which raises the question of whether the Judge should have recused herself from hearing the matter.

Such actions give rise to the perception, in the public mind, that the Judge may have a relationship with the plaintiff that influenced her judgment in the case before her, which erodes public confidence in the justice system.

The Malaysian Bar calls for a thorough investigation into the allegation against Judge Dato’ Hj Abdul Malik Bin Hj Ishak, and into Judge Chan Jit Li’s reported conduct.