“Reforming the judiciary is our commitment to realize the pledges made by the new government on restoring good governance in Malaysia. Our vision is an independent and functioning justice, accessible to everyone, including the most vulnerable and marginalized, where integrity is maintained at all levels and courts are not only providing high quality service, but are also seen performing well and trusted by the people” said Yang Amat Arif Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Richard Malanjum, the Chief Justice of Malaysia, in his opening remarks at the Strategic Planning Workshop on Judicial Excellence, organized jointly on 21 October 2018 by the Federal Court, the Chief Justice of Malaysia, UNDP and the International Consortium on Court Excellence, in Putrajaya.
This workshop marked the first ever collaboration between the Malaysian Judiciary and UNDP. It provided an opportunity to discuss the findings from a comprehensive consultation within the judiciary to pave the way for developing an action plan to improve court integrity, excellence, and public trust. It was the first time that the Judicial Integrity Checklist was piloted along with the International Framework for Court Excellence checklist. The Chief Justice, in his opening remarks, urged participants to be critical and avoid the mentality of the “YES man” – as acknowledging frankly the shortcomings is the first step towards tackling them.
The workshop gathered around 60 of the most senior High and Appeal Court judges and heads of the judiciary service at the state levels. The participants discussed the results of a comprehensive survey that was conducted amongst 500 judges, judicial officers, court administrators, judicial support personnel from different courts. Data emerging from the survey were compared with the results of a similar survey conducted in 2012. While some areas improved over the years, others declined and, among these, “public trust and confidence” – which is strictly related to integrity. Participants broke up into groups and conducted a prioritization exercise, identifying the most pressing issues and possible solutions. The high priority areas identified included: client needs and satisfaction (feedback and complaints analysis); public trust and confidence (communication of activities and procedures of the courts to external stakeholders; relationship with the media; openness to the public); court resources (lack of financial planning; lack of transparency in budget formulation and implementation); affordable and accessible court services (not only in financial terms, but also when it comes to openness and inclusiveness); court management (backlog of cases). After the workshop, participants continued to work closely with the Supreme Court and the Office of the Chief Justice to develop a concrete plan for reform, with precise actions, timelines and responsible parties. In the long term, recommendations included in the action plan will be incorporated in the new strategic plan, to be adopted in 2021.
“This workshop was only a first step, a milestone in the road to excellence, part of a rethinking process, that will lead to an improved, more transparent and accountable judiciary in Malaysia”, stated the UN Resident Coordinator, Stefan Priesner. This initiative is part of a broader effort from UNDP to promote judicial integrity champions in the region, with the support of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
For more information about UNDP's work on Judicial Integrity in Asia and the Pacific, please visit this webpage or contact Ms. Liviana Zorzi, Programme Analyst at firstname.lastname@example.org