14 April 2008

Govt mulls judgment bonus



KUALA LUMPUR: Performance-based bonuses may soon be given to judges who write quality judgments.

The bonus, proposed last week at the annual Conference of Malaysian Judges, is intended for judges without any outstanding written judgments.

The bonus would be one of the proposals forwarded to the government.

If approved, it should reduce the number of outstanding written judgments as well as improve their quality.

Last week, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said the government would also be willing to consider a review of judges' basic salaries.
"We will be looking into the issues raised at the conference, including a proposal to increase judges' remuneration.

"The performance bonus, which will also be considered, will be a reward for judges who produce quality judgments and those without outstanding decisions," he said.

Chief Justice Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohamad said judges should always strive to produce well-written judgments.

At the conference, Abdul Hamid said judgments were something that every judge should be proud of.

"They are something very personal. They reflect our knowledge, our intellectual honesty, our analytical power, our ability to grasp the issues, indeed our whole character.

"I do not understand why any judge would not want to be proud enough to produce his or her own literary masterpieces."

Judges who attended the three-day conference described the event as "a breath of fresh air", because of promises of judicial reforms, including an independent judicial appointments commission.

The Bar Council and Malaysian Human Rights Commission have been pushing for an independent commission on judicial appointments and promotions for decades.

Although Zaid did not reveal any details, he said the government would be announcing extensive reforms soon.

This year's conference was also unique compared with previous years because of the involvement of the police, the Anti-Corruption Agency and the Attorney-General's Chambers.

A forum involving these parties discussed problems related to crime-fighting.

Abdul Hamid, who is due to retire in six months, had said he was confident there would be "positive changes" on the horizon.

"We were able to discuss our problems among ourselves and with the other parties effectively. As I said in my inaugural speech, I am determined to do what I believe to be right.

"That includes saying what I honestly believe to be right and needs to be said."

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