Malaysia on Tuesday named a lawyer who had close links with the main ruling party as the country's new chief judge, a move the opposition says could taint the judiciary.
A council of Malaysia's sultans and governors approved Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's nominee Zaki Azmi as chief justice. The nomination was then approved by the country's king, a statement from the prime minister's office said.
The decision has been strongly criticised by Malaysia's opposition parties, who say that it casts doubt on whether Abdullah would reform the judiciary and tackle corruption before stepping down in March. Zaki, 63, was a former legal adviser to Abdullah's United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party. He had also sat on UMNO's disciplinary panel.
Zaki is to replace Abdul Hamid Mohamed, who retired on Saturday.
In a newspaper interview last year following his appointment as a federal court judge, Zaki said he had cut off all his business dealings. "I have come here clean," he said.
But his former links to UMNO had raised doubts about his impartiality.
Some 25,000 people had signed a petition to the king objecting to Zaki's appointment due to his past involvement with UMNO, according to the independent news website Malaysiakini.com.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 21 Ekim 2008, 16:59