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Chief justice: Sultan Azlan Shah was a patient judge

As published in Malay Mail (print) today.

Sultan Azlan Shah (pic) was a patient judge and the post suited him, said Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria.

Arifin said during his tenure as Judge and Chief Justice, Sultan Azlan wrote many landmark rulings especially on constitutional and administrative law.

“We (judges) still read and referred to his many judgments and still look at his decisions,” said Arifin, adding he was saddened by the death.

Arifin, who had vast experience working with Sultan Azlan since he was a registrar at the High Court in 1976, described Sultan Azlan as a patient judge.

“When Tuanku was appointed Sultan of Perak, I was also Perak state legal advisor and I served about five years and when Tuanku became The Yang diPertuan Agong, I got my appointment letter from him as a High Court Judge.

“All judges and lawyers will agree he was a patient judge and suited for the post (judge). I am proud to have worked with him,” said Arifin, adding he also appeared before Sultan Azlan when he was a federal counsel.

Sultan Azlan was elevated to the Bench of the High Court of Malaya in 1965.

In 1973, he was appointed Federal Court judge and six years later in 1979 Chief Justice of Malaya, an office which he held until his appointment as the youngest-ever Lord President of the Federal Court of Malaysia on Nov 12, 1982.

Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram was saddened by the passing of Sultan Azlan who he described as a “sound judge”.

“He was a sound judge. He was always interested in the law and because of this he had a simple judicial temperament.”

Gopal said Sultan Azlan contributed a lot to the legal fraternity and he was also royal patron of the legal alumni.

“Sadly we will never see again the golden age of judicial prowess which was seen during his time.” 

Former Bar Council president Ragunath Kesavan said Sultan Azlan commanded the respect of those in the profession even after he retired.

“Although I only met him once, he shared a close relationship with the Bar especially the Perak legal community.”

“We have lost someone who could impart great knowledge to the profession,” Ragunath said.

Senior lawyer Datuk Salehuddin Saidin said Sultan Azlan’s passing was a great lost as he was not only loved by the people of Perak but more importantly he was most qualified to lead.

“His knowledge and experience as Lord President was vast and due to this it is hard for others to live up to his reputation.”

In 2009, Sultan Azlan was in the centre of a controversy during the constitutional crisis in Perak when three assemblyman quit Pakatan Rakyat. The trio later declared themselves to be BN friendly independent candidates.

Sultan Azlan refused then Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin’s request to dissolve the state legislative assembly citing his royal discretion under the Perak Constitution.

Subsequently, Mohammad Nizar and his state executive council were asked to resign to make way for Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir to take over as menteri besar.

The High Court then ruled the Sultan had acted beyond his constitutional powers in sacking Mohammad Nizar, saying a vote of no-confidence should have been taken against the menteri besar.

But the Court of Appeal subsequently reversed High Court’s decision, declaring the sultan had the royal prerogative to decide on who was to be appointed menteri besar.


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