KUALA LUMPUR: The Chief Justice of Malaysia and the country’s judiciary need to be given room to carry out their duties independently and professionally based on facts and laws, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said.

This was important to provide a clear signal to Malaysians that there is separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judiciary in conducting their duties in accordance to their respective capacities.

He noted that there were assumptions that the judiciary, which had long been held as an institution of irrefutable and unquestionable high standing, had been compromised by executive dominance.

According to Anwar, even the Bar Council of Malaysia and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) were of the view that defects and weaknesses existed within the present judiciary.

“We see in the past few years, there have been changes and appointments in the judiciary, but I haven’t interfered with a single appointment. I follow the Judicial Appointments Commission’s process and then the Chief Justice will forward (a name) and I will accept it,” he said during the ‘Special Narrative with the Prime Minister’ interview on Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) yesterday.

On the question of corruption and integrity, Anwar said he provided leeway to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to act and investigate fully, starting from the upper echleon.

“I told the enforcement officials to be firm no matter....(who) and to Cabinet colleagues as well, every week I tell them that I would not defend them if there are mistakes or evidence of siphoning the country’s wealth,” he said.

Based on cases in the country, he noted that there are small fries and big fish caught and jailed for such issues and believed there are many similar cases occurring.

“....what makes me sick is that we have experience where influential figures are caught but haven’t gotten what they deserve. Take for instance files on flood mitigation, the Kuala Lumpur Tower and the Jana Wibawa programme, each of these cases there are attempts to siphon away wealth by these figures.

“So with the opportunity given, insyaAllah I will ensure action is taken to teach those in the past and present a lesson,” he said.

Anwar also addressed criticism that such an approach was tantamount to political vengeance, pointing out that such an assumption would only exist if there were those who were afraid of being investigated.

He added that he had never interfered and instead provided clear instructions to the MACC that his administration did not want to cover up cases or be biased in terms of investigations.

“....but based on what we can see, what seems to happen is efforts to pursue investigations results directly with accusations of vengeful persecution.

“If we don’t do anything, they will say it’s not good governance, that we want to cover up huge corruption cases, and when we do take action, they claim it’s political pressure placed on certain parties,” he said. - Bernama