First published by The Star on 18 March 2016

PETALING JAYA: Public interest groups continue to voice differing views about the Bar Council’s attempt to initiate a judicial review on the Attorney-General (A-G).

Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) said the functions of the A-G should be separate from the position of the public prosecutor to ensure the independence of criminal prosecution.

Its president Datuk Akhbar Satar pointed out that in the United Kingdom, the Crown Prosecution Services decide on prosecutions as an independent branch of the government with little interference from the A-G.

Akhbar added that the A-G Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali should explain the basis for not proceeding with recommendation of the Malaysian Anti Corruption Com­mission (MACC) related to the RM2.6bil political donation and SRC International, along with his instructions to the anti-graft agency to close their files.

The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) chief executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan said: “I believe the current setup – in which the A-G is both the government’s lawyer and the public prosecutor – is problematic in managing public expectations for independent investigation and prosecution of alleged grand corruption.

“There is a serious structural issue with the A-G’s Chambers which impacts upon public trust in the institution.”

In a separate statement, the Judicial and Legal Service Officers Association (Jalsoa) stated it will hold an extraordinary general meeting to reject what it described as interference with the affairs of the A-G’s Chambers.

The association criticised the Malaysian Bar which will debate a resolution calling for Mohamed Apandi to step down during its annual general meeting this Saturday.

Jalsoa said the move had raised the ire of its members.

Senior lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said the attempt by the Bar to seek a judicial review made them appear as “busybodies”. He added that the Bar had no locus standi, and it had nothing to do with the investigation into the political donations or Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Drawing a comparison with England’s judicial review system, Shafee said victims might apply for a judicial review on the decision of their cases and counsels might be appointed to see if matters could be reopened in court.

“It was still up to the director of public prosecutions to decide on that. The same applies in Malaysia.”

Bar Council president Steven Thiru said on Wednesday that the legal body was seeking a judicial review of Apandi’s recent decisions in regard to the case involving the prime minister.

Three lawyers – Charles Hector, Francis Pereira and Shanmugam Ramasamy – had proposed a motion to debate the call for Apandi’s resignation at the AGM.

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