Politicians on trial: Rebuilding judicial legitimacy in Malaysia (2018-2024)

Crawford School of Public Policy

Event details


Date & time

Thursday 09 May 2024


Seminar Room 9 JG Crawford Building and Online Zoom


Amalina Yasmin Mohd Sokri (speaker) Associate Professor Grant Walton (Moderator)


Grant Walton
+ 61 415 754 943

Abstract: Malaysia was governed by one dominant political party known as Barisan Nasional (BN) for over six decades. However, the party lost for the first time in the 2018 election. Since then, several politicians including the former Prime Minister have been brought to court on corruption charges, money laundering and misuse of power. Judicial legitimacy has long been a source of contention for the Malaysian judiciary; this was particularly heightened during the 1988 judicial crisis, which saw the then-prime minister remove the then Chief Justice from the bench. In the wake of Malaysia’s transformative political transition in 2018, this study examines the critical task of rebuilding judicial legitimacy within Malaysia’s evolving political landscape. The thesis argues that the changing political dynamics in Malaysia offer a great opportunity for the judiciary to rebuild its legitimacy but it could also expose potential danger and risks. These risks include political meddling and outside pressures that could jeopardise the independence and integrity of the judicial institutions, which would ultimately undermine the legitimacy of the judiciary. The thesis aims to answer the question of how the Federal Court frames its communication with the public in high-profile political cases, and what reception it receives among the media, civil society and the legal profession at large. By using narrative analysis, the thesis aims to delve into the roles played by various actors such as judges, legal practitioners, civil society and the media in regaining public trust. The study is field based which includes in-depth interviews with legal practitioners, media practitioners as well as civil society groups and the public. The study will also analyse numerous texts including judicial decisions, judges’ speeches as well as online and print media. Findings from the study can inform policy decisions aimed at bolstering the credibility and efficacy of the judiciary within the broader governance framework.

Profile: Amalina Yasmin is a PhD candidate studying judicial politics at the Crawford School of Public Policy and the recipient of the Australian Government Research Training Program (AGRTP) Scholarship. She holds a Bachelor of Law from MARA University of Technology and a Master’s degree in Southeast Asia Studies from the University of Malaya. Before commencing her PhD journey, Amalina dedicated almost 8 years to the practice of law in Malaysia. Her research interests are mainly in the field of judicial politics, comparative constitutionalism, institution building, and the rule of law particularly in Southeast Asia.

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