KUALA LUMPUR: Former High Court and Court of Appeal judge Datuk Seri Hishamudin Yunus was honoured on Wednesday for his “unflinching commitment to judicial independence” during the launch of his book, Upholding The Federal Constitution: The Judicial Thoughts Of Dato’ Seri Hishamudin Yunus.

The event was officiated by the Yang di Pertuan Besar Negri Sembilan, Tuanku Muhriz ibni Almarhum Tuanku Munawir.

Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, who was also present at the event, wrote in the foreword of the book that Hishamudin served with distinction on the bench and presided over matters without fear or favour.

Maimum also praised Hishamudin for his groundbreaking judgements, which according to her were a testament “to his firm commitment to upholding the supremacy of the Federal Constitution, especially when it came to fundamental liberties”.

Rosli Dahlan, Saravana Partnership senior partner Rosli Dahlan described Hishamudin as being a “fearless judge” who upheld the rule of law, while another senior partner at the firm, Saravana Kumar, who was also the editor of the book, said his inspiration for putting together the collection of 15 articles, written by eminent lawyers, was the many conversations with Hishamudin, whom he lauded (for) having written more than 700 judgements, many of which were dissenting ones.

In his royal address, Tuanku Muhriz urged civil society and other stakeholders to “take the lead for meaningful discussions to be taken to achieve judicial independence as a means of upholding the Federal Constitution”.

Tuanku Muhriz also mentioned that the rakyat goes to court to seek and obtain justice.

“Be it a criminal appeal, an appeal against the decision of the government or one of its agencies, or a private matter, the public sees the courts as their avenue to seek justice.

“I have commented in the past that a judge must always be conscious of the qualities (that make) a good judge, namely upholding independence and integrity, maintaining impartiality, avoiding impropriety of any kind and having a good grasp of the law.

“Datuk Seri possesses all these essential qualities, which made him stand out as a respected judge.

“The presence of the many judges, retired judges and civil society leaders today is a testament to our recognition of his selfless contributions to deliver justice in the course of upholding the Federal Constitution,” said Tuanku Muhriz, who mentioned the need to not only select independent judges but (to ensure) their representation reflects the “diversity of our multi-cultural society and the composition of our Federation”.

The book covers various issues, including personal liberty, free speech, native rights, the right to education, the right to equality and natural justice and illustrates how, many of Hishamudin’s landmark judgements over his 23 years on the bench, reflect his commitment and dedication to upholding the supremacy of the Constitution.