PUTRAJAYA, Nov 30 ― Former de facto law minister Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim today suggested that the mandatory retirement age of judges be raised to 70 or 75, from 66.
He said as upgrades of social and medical facilities abound and as the overall social eco-system improved, the retirement age of apex judges ought to be reconsidered so as to be in consonance with contemporary and world prevalence.
“Why 66 and not 70 or 75? Why indeed? I know a go-getter prime minister of our time who retired only when he attained the age of 77.
“I may add that I had the opportunity of serving as a member of his Cabinet for well over a decade. Now in his 91st year, he is still robust as a tactician and a hardy politician,” he said in his keynote address at the launching of the book titled The Malaysian Judiciary, at the Palace of Justice, here.
Rais, who is the advisor to the government on social and cultural matters, said a prime minister might serve up to the lofty age-level of late 70's but top judges could serve only up to 66 for now.
He said that for the future, apex judges at least should be allowed to serve the judiciary up to age 70.
“Some may want to argue that the adrenalin of a PM is different from that of a top judge. Really, this comparison is futile because a judge's brain power optimises even beyond 70,” he said.
Citing other countries, Rais said in Australia, the system had no longer prescribed a retirement age while in Japan, judges above 70 were normal prevalence.
“At 70, judges may not have the adrenalin of a 50-year-old but they certainly have the benefit of having experience and the wisdom of circumspect.
“It is not adrenalin that we want. We want dexterity, wisdom and brain power. After all in judicial findings, it is the combination of the thought process of fairness and language capability that makes up the final decisions,” he said.
When asked to comment on Rais' suggestion, Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria said the country could implement that but it needed to amend the Federal Constitution.
“It can be implemented but you have to amend the Constitution and it requires two-thirds majority in the House. I am sure everybody would agree, even the opposition would not oppose this,” he said, adding that it was a common practice throughout the world.
Arifin said now in Thailand and Indonesia, the retirement ages of judges were 70 and 75 respectively.
Earlier, in his speech before launching the book, Arifin said the book gave an overview of the historical background and development of the Malaysian Judiciary.
He said the book could serve as a useful guide on the Malaysian Judiciary not only for lawyers, but also for the general public.
Former Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi, the general editor of the 226-page book, was also present at the event. ― Bernama