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LEAD: Malaysia names Dzaiddin chief justice.

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec. 7 Kyodo

(EDS: CORRECTING THE EXPIRATION DATE OF THE TENURE AT 6TH PARA) The Malaysian government confirmed Thursday the appointment of reform-minded judge Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah as chief justice of the Federal Court, the highest office in the country's judiciary.

King Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah consented to the appointment, on the advice of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and after consultation with the Conference of Rulers, a statement from the Prime Minister's Office said Thursday.

The Conference of Rulers is a body comprising hereditary Malay rulers from nine states.

The Prime Minister's Office was forced to come out with the statement after Mahathir caused a stir when he remarked recently he had not been informed of the appointment.

''I don't know. I have not been informed,'' he was reported saying in Wednesday newspapers.

But on Nov. 9, the Conference of Rulers came out with a press statement announcing the appointment of Dzaiddin as replacement for the very unpopular Eusoff Chin whose tenure expires Dec. 19.

Eusoff was recently embroiled in a controversy over a photograph showing him on holiday with a politically well-connected lawyer over whose cases Eusoff sometimes preside.

The Malaysian judiciary had never been under such scrutiny, both domestically and internationally, until the celebrated trials of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

Anwar has accused the court of conspiring with Mahathir to bring him down on trumped-up charges.

Anwar is now serving a total 15 years jail for corruption and sodomy.

The international judicial and legal community has pronounced there is ''cause for concern'' about Malaysia's judicial system.

Dzaiddin's appointment has been well received by many, including the Bar Council which has had a testy relationship with Eusoff.

Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang of the Democratic Action Party said in a statement Thursday, ''The first and most important task of the new chief justice is simply to restore national and international confidence in the system of justice in Malaysia.''

Dzaiddin, 63, was a journalist before turning to law and was a vice president of the Bar Council before being appointed to the bench. In 1993, he was promoted from high court judge to the federal court.

Dzaiddin is scheduled to receive his letter of appointment from the king Dec. 20.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Dec 11, 2000
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