PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysian judiciary today created history with the simultaneous elevation of four women judges to the country’s appellate courts.
Chief Justice Tun Md Raus Sharif said the elevation of Court of Appeal judge Datuk Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin as Federal Court judge and High Court judges Datuk Suraya Othman, Datuk Yeoh Wee Siam and Datuk Rhodzariah Bujang as Court of Appeal judges was based on their performance and work culture.
“Certainly this ceremony today is another achievement which the learned judges, their families and friends should be proud of. Indeed the learned judges’ appointments today (Sept 25) are historic for the judiciary where four women judges are simultaneously promoted to the highest courts.
“In other words, their elevation is based on merit. Congratulations to all women. I need to state here that the elevation of these four women judges is not to fill the quota of women at the Federal Court and Appeals Court, but because of their performance and work culture shown all this while,” said Md Raus, followed by thunderous applause from those present at the ceremony yesterday.
The Chief Justice said this after the swearing-in of Alizatul Khair, 64, who was appointed as Federal Court judge, and High Court judges Suraya, 59, Yeoh, 64, and Rhodzariah, 56, as Appeals Court judges.
The new appointments of these four women judges became effective on Sept 23, 2017.
In his speech, Md Raus also said that the composition of the Federal Court was 12 male judges and three women judges but with the elevation of Alizatul Khair, the number women increased to four.
With regard to the Court of Appeal, he said the number of women judges had now risen to 15 from 12 with the three new appointments while there were 14 male judges.
“This means that more than 50 per cent of the Appeals Court judges are women,” he said in jovial manner, followed by laughter from the guests at the ceremony.
Md Raus said this development showed that the judiciary had no prejudice towards gender in any appointment, and as long as the court judges showed good work culture and performed with excellence, they would be elevated on the bench regardless of gender.
However, he reminded that post elevation came with heavier responsibilities and challenges for judges.
“Let us together safeguard the independence of the judiciary. Independence of the judiciary and public trust in the judiciary could be raised when judges possess a high-level of integrity, knowledge and expertise in their respective fields.
“Independence and integrity is the foundation of public confidence. The public must believe that no favour can influence judges in making their decisions,” he further said.
Justice Alizatul Khair, originally from Ipoh, Perak started her career in the legal field as a federal counsel in the Attorney-General’s Chambers in 1976 and was appointed as Appeals Court judge on May 11, 2011.
Suraya, from Johor Bahru, Johor, began her career in May 1982 as a deputy public prosecutor, AG’s Chambers and had held various posts including as a senior parliamentary draftsman, and was a Sessions Court judge before being appointed as High Court judge on Sept 5, 2007.
Yeoh, from Muar, Johor, had been a magistrate in Johor Bahru, and had served as senior federal counsel and as Industrial Court chairman and then appointed as High Court judge on Aug 10, 2011.
Rhodzariah, 56, from Bintangor, Sarawak started as a magistrate in her home state and had also served as registrar of the Sabah and Sarawak High Courts and was elevated to the High Court as judge on Aug 10, 2011.
These four women judges all graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) from Universiti Malaya. – Bernama