Beyond Independence and Accountability
Edited by Richard Devlin and Adam Dodek
Chapter 14: A judicial code of ethics: regulating judges and restoring public confidence in Malaysia
Judicial codes can serve multiple objectives. This chapter examines the use and disuse of judicial codes of conduct by investigating the case of Malaysia. Malaysia first prescribed a Judges’ Code of Ethics in 1994, and then replaced it in 2009 with a more extensive code which established a procedure for complaints and investigation beyond the previous procedure. On the face of it, these codes may be conceptualized as rules for self-regulation, ensuring that judges comprehend their duties and act ethically. Furthermore, they appear to also serve the aim of asserting the judiciary’s independence against the other branches of government. However, because the codes were passed by Parliament in the wake of executive incursions and charges of corruption, there is concern that they are in fact a way for the executive, through the legislature, to control judicial conduct, with a deleterious effect on judicial independence.
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