The Conference of Rulers today proposed the removal of the prime minister's power to appoint five representatives to the nine-member Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC), the body which proposes candidates to be made judges in the superior courts.
This followed a meeting by the rulers chaired by Negeri Sembilan's Tuanku Muhriz Tuanku Munawir, held for two days at Istana Negara beginning yesterday.
In its statement, the conference said the JAC in its present composition had weaknesses, adding that its membership was critical to ensure that only those with intergrity are appointed to judicial posts.
Presently, four of the nine JAC members are made up of senior judges, while the remaining five are appointees of the prime minister.
Tuanku Muhriz said a more balanced membership was needed so that appointments would not be biased towards any parties.
"To ensure the independence of JAC in carrying out its responsibilities, I propose that the appointment of its five members should not be made by the prime minister.
"Instead it should be given to other institutions such as the Malaysian Bar Council, the Sabah Law Society, the Sarawak Bar Association and the Parliamentary Select Committee," he said.
Tuanku Muhriz also called for JAC's structure to be reevaluated through discussions with the relevant institutions and stakeholders.
"When all this is implemented, I am confident JAC will be able to carry out its responsibilities more effectively, and choose and appoint only those individuals who have a noble character, and are transparent and fair, to become judges in Malaysia."
JAC was set up in 2009 to ensure an unbiased selection of judges for the consideration of the prime minister.
Critics have however questioned the provision allowing the prime minister to appoint the majority of the commission's members, as well as his power to remove them, saying it smacks of political patronage in the judiciary.