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31.05.2015 at 12:00 am
Cuttings

Judges Should Not Fear Criticism

They should welcome it.

... ...a judicial arbiter must decide any question presented to him for decision in the light of the objective facts and in accordance with settled principles. On no account should his personal sentiment enter upon the scene. Criticism of a judge is part of the territory in which he operates. So long as that criticism is made bona fide, based on fact and in conformity with law, none, least of all a judge, should mind: for there is no acquisition of knowledge without criticism. Over-sensitivity to criticism may result in ignorance, or much worse, intellectual arrogance. To decide a point in fear of criticism is to abdicate duty. These are matters that form part of a well-recognized judicial philosophy and should require no reiteration.

In my judgment the learned judge failed to act in accordance with these principles. He decided upon disqualification, not on grounds argued before him. The record makes no mention of the grounds relied upon by him as ever having been put to either side. His fear that an allegation may later be made against him is a non sequitur. In his carefully reasoned judgment, the learned judge was at pains to point out his lack of prejudice. Yet he was not prepared to hear the case. That to my mind is wrong.

- Hock Hua Bank (Sabah) Bhd v Yong Liuk Thin & Ors [1995] 2 MLJ 213

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